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Donations allow man to keep foot

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POSTED July 6, 2014 11:59 p.m.

A Manteca man who suffered a compound fracture above his ankle during a river accident and faced amputation will get to keep his left foot.

Levi Gray is scheduled for the first of two surgeries today — procedures that should allow the 26-year-old father of two to avoid amputation.

Gray broke the tibia and fibula bones in his left leg after jumping off a train bridge and into the Stanislaus River during a Father’s Day weekend float with his wife, Andrea Chapman Gray.

The broken bones pierced the skin, creating a scary predicament for the out-of-work pipe-fitter.

Levi was transported to Memorial Medical Center in Modesto, where he required four surgeries to clean the wound, reset the bones and insert a plate. A wound VAC was used to fight infection as the Gray family navigated healthcare’s administrative waters.

Doctors told Levi and his wife that he would need at least one more surgery to save his foot. The skin tissue around the wound was dying, Andrea said in an interview with the Bulletin last week, and Levi would need a skin flap procedure and muscle repair or risk amputation.

The deadline for that decision was set for Wednesday. Making matters worse, the Gray’s insurance — Medi-Cal — wouldn’t cover the plastic surgery.

“It was horrible,” Andrea told the Bulletin last week. “They basically told us there was no other option. They said there were five plastic surgeons in all of California that could do the surgery he needs. They called three of the five and none of them said they’d accept him.

“They said if we can’t find a doctor to do this, your husband will lose his foot.”

The Grays had only a matter of days to recoup their old insurance, but that meant settling a nearly $1,700 debt with United Healthcare and paying August’s impending bill and the surgery’s deductible.

All told, the Grays would need to find $3,000. It was money they didn’t have.

Andrea — a former Manteca High student — is a stay-at-home mother and Levi was between jobs. He was laid off in April following a project in Colorado and was scheduled to be on a site in Wyoming this week.

The Grays were out of money and options, or so they thought.

A GoFundMe account established by Andrea eclipsed the requisite $3,000 fundraising goal on Thursday — thanks to a flood of donations by many, including complete strangers.

With that money, the Grays renewed their insurance policy and have scheduled the first of two surgeries for today.

Details of the two surgeries were not available.

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