SIDNEY — A healthy Blaine Mantor, 21, of Sidney, arrived in New Jersey on Sept. 4 to help tow cars damaged by flooding from Hurricane Ida. He was supposed to come home on Sept. 23. Over a month later Mantor returned home with a new liver.
Blaine Mantor has worked for his father, Brian Mantor, owner of Mantor Auto & Truck Repair, since he was 16-years-old. Brian said, “He just loves to work. He is a very hard working young man.”
So it was not surprising that Blaine volunteered to drive all the way to New Jersey in a company tow truck and help tow away cars that were left inoperable due to the recent flooding caused by hurricane Ida. Blaine had never been on a disaster relief operation before.
“This was his first opportunity to go and we let him go,” Brian said.
Mantor Auto & Truck Repair contracts through Sandy’s Towing which is based out of Dayton. When there is a disaster somewhere in the country that disables cars, Mantor Towing will get an email from Sandy’s Towing asking them if any of their employees would like to volunteer to tow cars at the disaster site. The Mantor Auto & Truck Repair employees are not required to go, but they get paid if they do.
Blaine left Sidney for the East Coast but he wasn’t alone in New Jersey. Chuck White of Wrecker’s Towing and Transport, also based in Sidney, had come to New Jersey to help with the disaster relief. While New Jersey was a completely different environment compared to the much more rural Shelby County area, Blaine excelled at his work. Sandy’s Towing tracks the performance of its volunteers and Blaine was rated in the top 3 of all the volunteer drivers helping in New Jersey.
Besides growing up around the towing business Brian said Blaine was fully trained. “He knows what to do.”
As the days passed Blaine stayed in constant contact with his mother, Michelle Mantor, and Brian. Blaine would call home and describe the work he had been doing and talk about the people he dealt with in New Jersey. Blaine would also text photos home that he took of the various jobs he was working on.
On Sept. 19, just four days before he was scheduled to return home, Blaine’s life changed. He started to throw-up. Blaine told his parents he was not feeling well and apologized for not being able to work. Brian told his son that, “It’s no big deal. We’re just worried about you.”
That night White, who was staying in the same hotel, brought some fluids and food to Blaine’s hotel room. The next morning Chuck stopped in to see how Blaine was feeling. Blaine had stopped throwing-up but felt really tired and was not going to be able to work. White left the hotel to continue towing cars.
That same morning, Sept. 20, at around 10:30 a.m. Michelle received a text from Blaine that was complete gibberish. Michelle and Brian didn’t know the reason for the strange text and became worried. Brian said they “Blew up his phone all day long.” but there was no response. They got ahold of White and asked him to swing by the hotel and check on their son. White had a load of cars that he was working on but postponed delivering them so he could see if Blaine was okay.
White arrived at the hotel between 4 and 5 p.m. and found Blaine in a state of semi-consciousness. White called 911. In six minutes an ambulance arrived and took Blaine to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey. White told Brian what was happening. Brian picked Michelle up and took her to the Dayton International Airport where she, and her father, Randy Sloan, were able to book an 8 p.m. flight to New Jersey that would arrive at 1 a.m. on Sept. 21. At that time Blaine had been admitted to intensive care.
Around 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 21 Brian got a call from White who said Brian needed to come immediately. Brian couldn’t get a plane flight soon enough so he drove 614 miles straight to New Jersey. Brian arrived at 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 22. By this time Blaine had been medevaced to University Hospital affiliated with Rutgers University because of the hospital’s expertise in liver transplants. After being taken from his hotel room, Blaine lost consciousness and would remain unconscious for nine days. His body partially shut down due to massive amounts of ammonia in his body caused by his liver failing. The ammonia caused Blaine’s brain to swell but his body partially shutting down helped prevent Blaine’s own body from causing more serious damage. Doctors didn’t expect him to survive the first night.
On Thursday, Sept. 23, Blaine was put at the top of the liver transplant list due to his serious condition. On Sept. 25 Brian got a call saying a liver had been donated that Blaine could have. Blaine received the liver transplant the next day. On Sept. 30 when Blaine woke up from his unconscious state; he wasn’t coherent for several days. Over the next month Blaine began to recover. Among the hospital staff he became known as “The boy from Ohio.” Blaine continued to get stronger. Brian said hospital workers told them, “He did amazing things with what he was dealt with.” Blaine eventually started rehab and then was released at the end of October.
Brian, along with Michelle and Sloan, picked Blaine up from the hospital and drove him back to Sidney. They took the drive back slowly with stops so that Blaine could get out and walk to keep motion in his legs. The trip lasted two days. On Tuesday, Nov. 2, they arrived in Sidney. Blaine was greeted by tow truck drivers that had lined the road in front of Menards with their tow trucks as a Shelby County Sheriff’s deputy escorted Blaine’s car. Blaine waved to the tow truck drivers from the front passenger’s side window, a wide smile on his face. The welcoming was organized by Wrecker’s Towing and Transport.
Brian says Blaine is doing great. He just needs to heal. The doctors never found a reason for Blaine’s sudden liver failure. Brian didn’t believe Blaine had come into contact with anything unusual while working in New Jersey that could account for his illness. Blaine’s medical care has been transferred to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center where he will go for all his follow-up appointments.