Richard F. Jezioro Jr., 38, the West Seneca resident and former Erie County official who made headlines earlier this year in an unsuccessful battle for experimental medical treatment, lost his long fight with AIDS Saturday.
A hemophiliac who contracted the disease several years ago through a blood transfusion, Jezioro died in Hospice Buffalo in Alden. He had returned to Buffalo Friday night on a chartered aircraft after becoming critically ill while vacationing with his family at Disney World in Florida.
"I have a feeling that's the thing he really wanted to do for his family -- take them to Disney World," said his brother-in-law, Tim Hunt.
Jezioro's plight gained widespread attention in September when The Buffalo News outlined his pleas to state officials for permission to try an experimental AIDS treatment. That treatment involved removing blood, heating it and then reintroducing it to the patient's body.
"Let me decide whether I'm going to lie here wasting away or take an aggressive stance to cure my disease," Jezioro said in a hospital interview in September. "Just give me a chance."
His family, with the help of more than a half-dozen elected officials, including County Executive Gorski, lobbied the state and local medical community to allow a Georgia physician to supervise Jezioro's hyperthermia treatment at the Erie County Medical Center.
But the treatment was ultimately rejected by a panel of medical center physicians, who ruled the treatment could be dangerous and ineffective.
Hunt said Jezioro and his family eventually agreed with the ruling, even though they had put so much hope into the hyperthermia treatment.
"We all started out feeling this should be a chance for him to try, and we assumed certain things about the doctor," Hunt said. "But by the time we got to the end of the process, a number of things we assumed about the doctor proved false. We realized then it was not the best thing."
Since the decision in September, Jezioro's condition continued to deteriorate, until he was admitted to Hospice House in October. He regained some strength in November, and arranged for the family vacation in Florida that began Dec. 2. But Hunt said he was extremely weak, and weighed about 70 pounds when he died.
"His body obviously just gave up," Hunt said.
Born in Buffalo, Jezioro was in the last graduating class of Bishop Ryan High School in 1970 and was graduated from Canisius College in 1974. Active for many years in Democratic Party politics, he began work for the Erie County Legislature after graduation from college, and then joined the county Department of Social Services as a Medicare investigator. He then worked with former County Clerk Genevieve Starosciak as deputy clerk for finance, a position he held for more than 11 years.
He was a member of Alden Lodge 594 F&AM, the Orchard Park Country Club, and was a director of the Hemophilia Center of Western New York.
Jezioro is survived by his wife, the former Lorraine Kluczynski; three daughters, Hope L., Lacey A. and Lizabeth F., all at home; his parents, Richard F. Sr. and Angeline R. of Buffalo, and a brother, Gary M. of Buffalo.
Services will be at 9:15 a.m. Tuesday in the Kloc Funeral Home at Clinton Street and Borden Road in West Seneca, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church at Seneca Street and Rice Road in Springbrook.
Burial will be in St. Adalbert's Cemetery in Lancaster.