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Daniel’s Story

Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We've created it to keep friends and family updated about Brother Dan and Melisa, his sweetheart and caregiver. Get started by reading the introduction to our website, My Story.

Visit often to read the latest journal entries, visit the photo gallery, and write us a note in our guestbook.


I'm Brother Dan, a singer/songwriter, from Northern Nevada. I've been traveling and performing throughout the US from a young age, and began performing internationally about three years ago.

I was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in 2004, but was unable to find the right doctor, and was told not to worry about my condition by at least three different doctors. Through my own research I began a long-term diet regimen of organic foods, herbal remedies, and liver cleansing, while I continued to monitor my liver enzymes through periodic blood tests. Things improved markedly and it seemed as though all was well.

In May of 2009 all of that changed. I suddenly began to swell with fluid, and developed conditions known as pitting edema and ascites. I began visiting a homeopathic doctor, spent a  lot of money there, and didn't get any better. I eventually entered the hospital via the emergency room. The doctors there informed me I had cirrhosis and gave me 6 to 9 months to live, then discharged me. I began being "tapped" on a regular basis, which meant they poked a needle into my abdomen and drained fluid out of me, as I ballooned from my normal 185 pounds up to 245 lbs. I had as much as 15 liters of fluid drained at a time.

During my third hospital admission, I began bleeding internally, and had to be resuscitated three different times. When I was eventually discharged, there was one doctor that held a glimmer of hope for me, and told me to contact UCSF in San Francisco. UCSF doesn't accept Nevada Medicaid (which I had finally qualified for after a four month wait), and referred me to California Pacific Medical Center, who does accept it. I was also informed of my true diagnosis, which is end-stage liver disease.

In early September I went to CPMC for a two day liver transplant evaluation, but they admitted me to their facility and I wasn't discharged for three weeks. Test after test, including a liver biopsy and finally a TIPS procedure (trans-jugular inter-hepatic portal shunt) wherein they poked a hole in my liver and inserted a mesh tube to help the blood flow, reduce the ascites (abdominal fluids), and relieve the back pressure in my blood vessels that caused the internal bleeding (esophogeal varices). The downside is that I now occasionally experience encephalopathy. While in and of itself "E" is not life threatening, it's no fun AT ALL, for me or my caregiver, Melisa. (Links can be found in journal entries.)

At this point, I'm paying close attention to my diet, tracking my intake of protein, carbs, salt, and fluid. The "E" has put me back in the hospital a couple of times (I was in a coma for three and a half days once), but the doctors, Melisa and I are working hard to find the balance that I need to remain stable. In the meantime, I'm not able to drive or work, and a liver transplant is my best hope for a return to a "normal" life. I need to be within six hours of the transplant center at any given time in case I get the call that they have a new liver for me, so my travel has been severely cut back as well.

Now living in Sacramento, I'm a couple of hours away from most of my family (athough my sister lives in Sac) and my friends. I depend upon Melisa as my caregiver 24/7, which means she hasn't worked for months and as we're on our own, we're slowly sinking financially. (Social Security Disability isn't all it's cracked up to be!) I'm depending on the goodness of people to help me stay afloat financially (donations can be made to the "Brother Dan Medical Fund" at any Bank of America branch), and I depend upon the internet to keep me in touch with the world.

If you'd like to sign my guestbook, I'd love to hear from you. Stop by often, as Melisa and I both make entries to the Journal fairly regularly, and you can keep up with my current condition and all the new things we're continually learning. (See the journal for links to articles about encephalopathy, MELD scores, and an upcoming discussion about ECD livers.)

You can find more info about me, purchase cd's, etc, at as well as at and view videos at 

Thanks for stopping by. Thanks for your love and support, and I hope that the New Year is better for all of us.

Brother Dan

Latest Journal Update

A long overdue update ...

Hi friends -

For those of you who don't do Facebook, which is where I post and keep up with people, I just wanted to let you know what's up in my world. If you need to refresh your memory about any of the issues I address here, you can always go back through this blog

Melisa and I moved to Florida almost three years ago. I have some friends here, and the waiting list is much shorter than in California. Melisa goes home to visit family a couple of times a year, but I've only been back once, when my Dad fell and broke his hip. I got to spend some great time with him, and he passed a couple of months later.

My condition has been quite stable. I recently completed another treatment regime for my HepC, it's currently non-detectable in my blood work, and I'm hoping it's gone for good. My MELD score has remained in the same range (14-17) for three years now.

So, imagine my surprise when my phone rang about six weeks ago, and I was called in to Tampa General Hospital as an alternate for a liver transplant. After five and a half years, it was the first time I've been called. Melisa happened to be in Nevada at the time, and my Mom had flown in from California the night before. So, I wasn't alone, and in retrospect I'm glad that Mom was here to ride the roller coaster with me, and I've learned a lot as a result.

There are a number of people sicker than me on the list, so why was I being called? As it turns out, the way it works is that the sickest patient (depending on blood type and body size) gets called in as the primary candidate. However, there's always the chance that there will be a complication, be it an infection or any of a lot of things that might have developed or previously gone undetected in the primary patient, especially because they're quite sick.

In order not to have to waste a good organ, they call the sickest, healthiest patient as an alternate. That's the role I was called for.

Alas, it was not to be, as the primary candidate did not have any complications, and I'm glad that someone sicker than me has gotten a second chance at life.

Since that first call, I've been called twice more. When I receive the call, I generally have about 90 minutes to get to the hospital, which is about an hour away, so I'm now keeping a bag packed, ready to go. That's right, three calls, with the expectation that I'll continue to be called. One of these times, the primary candidate will have a complication, and I'll be there, ready to go.

So, my whole mind-set has changed. We were planning on returning to the West for three months this summer. Now, I'm not going anywhere, because the call really can come at any time.

In the meantime, Melisa and I have both finished another semester of college. She's on track to have her associate's degree by this time next year. I've completed my certification in digital video production, and Melisa's focus on business management, along with her entrepreneurial certification and being named Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2014 by St. Petersburg College, has led us to production work for a number of local non-profit organizations as we build our portfolio and prepare to enter the world of business.

Because fatigue is still my number one demon as I deal with End Stage Liver Disease, I don't get out to play much music, plus the uncertainty of my situation keeps me on shaky ground. It's hard to commit to anything long-term. I do projects as they come up, though, and I've written some new material as I begin to prepare for my next CD project. I'll start recording once I get my guitar back from the luthier (it's in for a much-needed tune-up), which will be another three or four months. Then, as funds become available, I'll start working on the project.

So ... if you're on Facebook, please friend me (Dan Palmer). You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel (Docucrew LLC) if you want to check out our video work. I just loaded a short new video a couple of days ago (my final animation project for college), and will be posting three short (three to four minutes each) videos next week. The videos are already done, and we'll be premiering them at an event here in St. Petersburg next week, so I'll post them publicly following that event.

If you've been wondering what's up, please forgive me for not posting here for so long. The journey continues, and the ride has taken some crazy turns recently, so stay tuned and keep your hands inside the car at all times.

Thanks for caring and for keeping me in your thoughts and prayers. Drop me a note and let me know what's up with you ...

I love you and wish you peace.




Mimi (Peggy) Garner
By Peggy Garner
Hi Dan and Melissa, This update was so rewarding to read. I love you both and want to compliment you on living life to the fullest and how you both keep trying to learn something new. It is fantastic that you both love each other so much and can stay so positive through it all. I have learned something from you both.

My life on the other hand is still not where i would like it to be. Maybe I am hanging around the wrong people. But I get up every day and try my best with hopes that I am heading in the right direction. I got me a sweet dog. I am still with Winston. He recently fell and broke his shoulder, wrist and a rib. So he has been seeing doctors awaiting results about surgery. I will keep your story as a guideline to happiness.

Love, Mimi (Peggy) Garner
1 person hearted this
Donis Rodarte
By Donis
Thanks for the update Dan. Hoping THE call comes very soon for you!! XXXOOO
2 people hearted this