The St. Thomas community and the friends of physician Mark Livingston are rallying to his cause to give back for his dedication to them personally and professionally.
In November 2017 Livingston had to undergo unexpected heart surgery. His insurance did not cover the life-saving expenses it incurred or the income the family lost while Mark was unable to work during his recovery.
“I was moved to get together with friends to start a GoFundMe account after Mark had to undergo another open-heart surgery on February 14,” said Monica Latin, a close college friend of Livingston. “It seemed the surgery was a complete success, until he did not wake from the anesthesia.”
When the family’s plight became public knowledge in the community, the response was instantaneous. Donations from friends in all walks of life and patients of Livingston dug into their pockets and came up with an amazing testament to the love they share for Livingston and his family.
A CT scan revealed that Mark had suffered a stroke during surgery, Latin shared in the GoFundMe story. “Tests have revealed the stroke caused significant harm. Because he has been in and out of consciousness, the full extent is not yet clear,” she wrote.
Latin wrote. “One thing, however, is very clear. Mark, Kirstyn and their family are facing a long and uncertain path to a recovery that is not assured.”
The GoFundMe account is trending and in four days, 466 people have donated in the amount of $106,341 toward the goal of $130,000. With the donations came comments from people who value their relationship with Livingston.
“These comments from the community are truly from the heart. They show how many lives this family has touched. It’s authentic,” Latin said.
“Mark has been a most remarkable doctor for me and my late husband,” one person shared. Another said that Livingston is a kind soul who gives to all he comes in contact with. A comment from someone who did not know Livingston said she was donating in honor of a friend who knows the physician. “We love you Livingston,” a person wrote with a heart icon attached.
Livingston and his wife Kirstyn have lived on St. Thomas since 2006. Their children, Maya, age 11, and Owen, 9, were born on St. Thomas and attend school on the island.
Livingston is a family physician with a private practice. His wife provides individual and group therapy to adults and adolescents in private and community mental health, residential, and corrections settings.
They, like so many others, were left with their home uninhabitable after the devastating hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.
The family made their new home in a travel trailer on their property for over a year. Their insurance did not protect the family from all of the financial impact they suffered. With Livingston’s medical emergency their financial safety net was decimated.
The Livingston’s persevered with high spirits and humor and resilience, even with the second open heart surgery impending.
“Livingston has been in ICU in Dallas since the second surgery and he must stay under the care of health professionals in Dallas for at least the next several months,” said Latin. He won’t be able to work as a physician in private practice for the foreseeable future.”
Kirstyn travels between home and Dallas, with hopes to return to her own practice as soon as possible, while trying to assure as much normalcy for their children as she can.
Daniel Flynn, Kirstyn’s father, has moved from his home in Oregon to St. Thomas and takes care of the children in their parents’ absence.
“As Livingston heals and the family returns to normalcy, prayers continue to go out to them,” Latin said.
“The community has been amazing with their financial donations,” Kirstyn said. “And the outpouring of kindness and love they have returned to us is such a reassurance.”