Paul Kantner and Slick Aguilar (Photo: Mike Thut)The Jefferson Starship's Mark "Slick" Aguilar will soon head to Florida, where he will get on a waiting list as he prepares for a liver transplant. The 58-year-old musician, who's played guitar with the band since 1992, recently discovered that he's been suffering from hepatitis C, and without the operation his prognosis is not good.
"[Doctors] gave me a 50-percent chance that I…could make it two years, and that was in September," he reveals to ABC News Radio. "So, time is not my friend."
Aguilar, who lives in New Jersey, has chosen to go to the Sunshine State on the recommendation of his friend Phil Lesh of The Grateful Dead. Lesh, who underwent a liver transplant himself, discovered that the wait for a donor organ in Florida is generally much shorter than in most other states.
In addition to running short on time, Aguilar tells ABC News Radio that he's also in need of funds, since the operation is extremely expensive, and relocating also will be costly. Also, his condition has made it impossible for him to continue tour with Jefferson Starship. So, to help raise much-needed cash, a campaign was launched recently at the IndieGoGo website that will continue until this Saturday, January 12.
Aguilar also reports that plans are in the works for a bunch of his famous friends, including David Crosby, to perform at a benefit concert in the San Francisco area, possibly in late January or February. Other artists who Slick says he expects to participate in the show include Big Brother and the Holding Company, Country Joe McDonald, Elvin Bishop and several members of Eddie Money's band. He adds, "I was actually thinking maybe trying to get [Lesh's] club [Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael] and see if we can't do something there. And get the two of those guys together, Cros and Phil."
His health ordeal has inspired Aguilar to implore other people of his age group to go get checked for hepatitis C.
"Us baby boomers, you guys gotta get out there and just go in for a blood test," he declares. "Next time you go see your doctor…let him draw some blood, because it is nothing compared to what I've been through and what I'm soon to go through with a liver transplant."
On a similar note, the rocker is asking people to consider becoming organ donors. "There's a lot of people out there waiting and you can give the gift of life," he notes. "Unfortunately, a tragedy happens or misfortune for somebody, but that, in return, could be the gift of life for another family."
As he waits for his opportunity for a new liver, Slick admits although he's nervous, he's "ready to go do it and tackle that, and move on. I got a lot of things I wanna finish."
As for eventually returning to the Jefferson Starship, Aguilar reports that the group's founding member and leader, Paul Kantner, has told him, "Hey man, whenever you're ready, come back. I wanna play with you."
For his part, though, Slick says, "That all really depends upon how I heal…I've been on the road for, like, 35 years. I don't know if a just want to go and do an endless tour anymore."
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