Families raise money to help Claremore city councilor battle rare blood disease

CLAREMORE, OKLA. - For many people, serving as a city councilor gives them a chance to grow and make a difference in the communities they love.

In Claremore the community is now giving back some much needed support to one local leader.

David McComb joined the Claremore City Council about a year ago. He said at the time, the other city councilors probably had no idea that he suffered from an unusual disease.

"I have what they call essential thrombocythemia," McComb said. "It's kind of a rare blood disease."

The 35 year old first got sick in 2009. Doctors could not figure out exactly what was wrong with him even after numerous surgeries and countless stays in the hospital. In November 2013, his spleen was removed, and a doctor finally gave him a clearer diagnosis. McComb learned that he has ET, or essential thrombocythemia. The rare blood disease normally affects people over the age of 50 and causes the overproduction of platelets in bone marrow.

A physician who specializes in ET treatment agreed to meet with McComb later this month. He plans to travel to the Mayo Clinic in Arizona to hopefully join a test group for a new drug, which is not covered by his insurance. The treatment will likely cost his family about $10,000, a significant expense for a man who cannot work full-time.

The chronic nausea and intense pain caused by his disease prevent him from keeping a full-time job, so the father of two turned to his high school employer, Buddy's Grill in Claremore, for part-time work.

"(Buddy) helps me out tremendously," McComb said. "Any time I have a doctor's visit or if I just don't feel good, I can have off any time, so this is a great place."

A few weeks ago, his boss decided to hold a benefit for McComb at the restaurant. Diners came out Sunday to enjoy a plate of chicken enchiladas and donate money to help cover the cost of his medical expenses.

"Here we are with a packed restaurant, with a line out the door. It's awesome," said David's wife, Julie.

"I've lived in Claremore all my life. I love it. I cannot believe all the support we've had."

Family members, friends and even other Claremore city officials dropped off bills in donation jars at the restaurant.

"When you consider everything he's going through in his life and he's still willing to commit to the service of the City of Claremore (and) the citizens of Claremore, you just have to look up to somebody like that," said Mayor Bill Flanagan.

McComb said all the money collected Sunday will help when he and his wife go to Arizona for his first appointment on August 18.

"We don't enjoy asking people for money, but every cent helps," he said. "We'd really like to thank everybody that's doing this for us."

More donations are needed, so anyone interested in sending money online can click here . Donations can also be made to the David McComb Fund at RCB Bank in Claremore. 

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