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Man battles serious heart condition
Virgil Meighan looks out the front door as he sits inside his home south of Monroe, with life partner Sheila Moore behind, Tuesday. Straps hang from Meighan's neck and shoulders, holding batteries and a controller connected to an interior left ventricular assist device (LVAD) that helps move blood throughout his body. (Times photo: Anthony Wahl)

If you go ...

• What: Benefit for family of Virgil Meighan

• When: 5:30 p.m., Nov. 15

• Where: Turner Hall, Monroe

• Details: Food will be provided; purchases of food benefit the Meighan family. 4-H and Girl Scouts will provide treats

and baked goods. Dotty the clown will perform at Turner Hall.

MONROE - A Monroe man with a irreparably detrimental heart condition will have a benefit for his family Nov. 15.

Virgil Meighan, 49, has had bits and pieces of metal attached to his heart ever since he had a stroke in 2005. His heart is kept pumping with the assistance of a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), an electronic device attached to Meighan's left ventricle to assist moving blood throughout his body. But a serious infection of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) - a type of staph infection made up of bacteria resistant to many antibiotics - has latched onto the metal in Meighan and is slowly encroaching around his heart.

Meighan said he has been taking antibiotic drugs like Daptomycin to combat the infection, but eventually the infection will win. He is ineligible for a heart transplant due to his deteriorating health and the number of infected areas around his heart.

His life partner Sheila Moore and his three children, Xena, 13, Amber, 12, and Crystal, 11, have all been working tirelessly to keep him comfortable and provide the necessary palliative care. Moore has been with him for 15 years, and Meighan said she dropped everything to take care of him.

"She's been my angel," he said. "All these girls have helped me so much."

Moore stopped working several years ago to take care of Meighan full-time - she checks his vitals, helps him around and takes care of the children, too.

"Once a week a nurse will come by and change his dressings," Moore said. "I do all the day-to-day stuff like checking his vitals."

Xena plays volleyball and all the girls are involved in 4-H, keeping them and Moore very busy. She said the children have been very helpful during this trying time for the family.

"They try and stay active in sports, and they have bunnies and all sorts of animals," Moore said.

Meighan was a mechanic at Alphorn Ford in Monroe until his stroke in 2005, and he was forced into early retirement. He said one of the worst things about his heart condition is not being able to do the physically engaging things he used to do.

"I can't even change oil anymore," Meighan said.

Moore said there is always hope for Meighan, but the seriousness of his condition hasn't really "sunk in just yet," for the kids.

"He isn't as active anymore, he used to love to go fishing, but we can't really do that anymore," she said.

She said they are extremely thankful for the help they have gotten from family. Moore's and Meighan's parents have supported them, and family has come out to help at their house. She said the benefit in November will be to support the kids and help cover some of the cost in care the family has incurred.

"We are very gracious to the folks at Turner Hall and Wanda Bowles, who helped put the benefit together," Moore said.

The benefit at Turner Hall will have entertainment and food, some of the proceeds from the Turner Hall banquet will go directly to the family. Dotty the clown will perform at the event, which will be geared towards children.

"Everything will be for the kids, to help out their college funds," Meighan said.

Meighan said it has been hard to reach out for help because he is normally a private person.

"Now it's time," he said. "Since we told family more about it, we've gotten nothing but support."