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Family aims to reunite kidney patient, daughters

Maurice McDaniel was diagnosed with liver cancer in May 2012. Then came surgery and chemotherapy. Then came hospice care.

Faced with McDaniel's prognosis, his family and friends wanted to do something - something beyond the usual caretaking and preparation making. So they doubled down on a task they'd been working on, on some level, for decades: reuniting McDaniel with his children.

It's been more than 30 years since McDaniel's family broke up. His wife took three kids with her - one daughter that was McDaniel's by birth and two more he considered to be family. They moved to Los Angeles and McDaniel quickly lost track of the children.

"He has grieved for the loss of the children all these years and hasn't been able to locate them," said Gloria Thompson, McDaniel's sister.

But his family and friends, a tight-knit group that grew up together in the small community of London, took up the search with renewed vigor after his diagnosis this year.

They'd tried to use Facebook before, of course, but their search had never yielded any results. Until last week, when another of McDaniel's sisters, along with a niece, did a search and came up with a crop of what seemed to be strangers - until she took a closer look and saw a familiar name.

"And the grandson was named after his grandfather," Thompson said.

McDaniel and his family didn't know anything about the grandchildren that his daughters had had since they lost track of them, but the name Maurice, attached to a family name, caught their eye.

A quick message confirmed that they'd found one of McDaniel's grandchildren and, by extension, all three of his daughters. 

"It just happened overnight," Thompson said. "We were praying so hard, and in our prayer request we need this done quickly."

A few days later the whole family got on a conference call together - the first time they'd all touched base in nearly three decades.

"That was a day to remember," Thompson said. "We've done more crying and less sleeping and been more excited than any other time."

Now, they want to recreate that experience for Maurice, in person. They're on a mission to get them back to West Virginia to see their father.

That means airfare from Los Angeles to West Virginia for seven people (McDaniel's three daughters and four grandchildren). It's not something McDaniel or Thompson can afford, so they're trying to raise the money from the community. They've set a $5,000 goal to cover travel expenses.

Donations can be mailed to Gloria Thompson for the benefit of Maurice McDaniel, Citi National Bank of West Virginia, P.O. Box 4168, Charleston, W.Va., 25364-9969. For more information call 304-421-2630.

Contact writer Shay Maunz at shay.maunz@dailymail.com or 304-348-4886. 


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