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North Tonawanda firefighter battles rare bleeding disorder

Posted at 7:48 PM, May 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-10 19:48:26-04

A North Tonawanda firefighter is now in the fight for his life after recently being diagnosed with Acquired Hemophilia A. Richard Reeves is an electrical estimator but has volunteered with the Sweeney Hose Fire Company for 25 years.

The rare bleeding disorder was discovered by doctors in March after removing a kidney from his body that was dead. It causes severe bleeding episodes and makes it difficult for Reeves' body to stop the bleeding on its own.

"It was kind of a shock," said Reeves' son Rob who also volunteers at Sweeney Hose. "I guess you don't really expect it. He's somebody you see as your night in shining armor."

The medical costs have started to add up for the Reeves family. Richard has had a couple of lengthy hospital stays at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, one lasting about a month. Treatments for the rare disorder are expensive. According to the gofundme page, "the seven treatments of factor 8 he has received are thirty-two thousand dollars each and four other treatments of another medication is twenty-two thousand dollars each".

Reeves has to make large copayments toward each treatment and his family estimates right now it is up to $45,000 out of pocket. With Richard's disorder, it's not known if he'll ever be able to return to work.

After 25 years of helping others in the community, it's now Richard Reeves who is looking for help.

"We knew he was going to have a battle. We didn't know it was going to be this severe," explained Reeves' friend and fellow firefighter at Sweeney Hose, Joe Lavey.

The fire company is in the early stages of planning a fundraiser for Reeves, but don't have any dates set right now. So they're asking people in the community to make donations to this gofundme page that is raising money to help the Reeves deal with these unexpected medical costs.

"It's heartbreaking to know that a friend of mine is going through all this and there's not much that I can do," Kevin Kozlowski with the fire company said. "I wanted to be there every second of the day."

These friends all describe Reeves the same way: someone always willing to put others before himself and offer a helping hand. Now they're just trying to return the favor.

"He never asks for anything and always puts everyone else before himself," Peter Chenier, also with Sweeney Hose, said of Reeves.

Reeves is currently confined to his house, but is thankful for the support from the community. He also is thankful for the team of doctors and professionals at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital who have helped him in his fight.

Here's a link to the gofundme page set up to raise money for the Reeves family.