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The Neligh Fire Department is asking the community to help one of their own.
A benefit will be held Sunday, Feb. 23, at the Neligh Fire Station for fellow firefighter Tony Tschirren. Pancakes will be served from 8 a.m. until noon with a free-will offering taken.
Anyone wanting to underwrite the supplies for the benefit can contact Jake Sladky at 402-480-2018 or by email at email@example.com. Those unable to attend the Feb. 23 benefit can give their donations to any member of the Neligh Fire Department.
Tschirren, a 15-year firefighter and member of the Neligh-Oakdale Jaws of Life, has been diagnosed with essential thrombocythmia, a rare blood disease that causes too many platelets to be produced in his bone marrow.
According to the Mayo Clinic, essential thrombocythemia is incurable and can be very painful. The disease causes clots to form in blood vessels and can cause serious health problems, including a stroke and heart attack. A blood cancer, essential thrombocythemia, significantly increases the chances of developing leukemia, according to medical journals.
Tschirren - who lives in Neligh with his wife, Julie (an active EMT), and children Kenzi, 13, and Bradyn, 10 - was diagnosed with the disease several months ago. In mid-September the 36-year-old Neligh man, who is a superintendent with the Nebraska Department of Roads, began feeling fatigued and was diagnosed with West Nile. Blood tests showed elevated platelet counts, which reached nearly 2 million per microliter (normal is 150,000 - 400,000).
After several weeks of more tests, essential thrombocythemia was determined to be the cause of the elevated platelets.
Tschirren is currently on medication for the disease and expects to be for the rest of his life. There currently is no cure for the disease, and Tschirren is hoping to seek treatment at the Mayo Clinic to improve the prognosis.