Rich Karlgaard:
Nine out of ten entrepreneurs fail in their enterepreneurial attempts. The odds are worse if you try to launch a business while your body’s largest internal organ, the liver, is going south with hepatitis C and your energy is good for only three hours a day, tops. But this was the story with Gary Doan of Eagan, Minn. and his data-storage/backup company, Intradyn.

“I first got sick in 1993, when I was on a cruise ship in the Caribbean,” Doan begins. The doctor ran blood tests. He suspected hepatitis, but nobody knew about hep C back then. The doctor’s diagnosis was “non-A and non-B.” Doan later traced his infection to a blood transfusion he’d had after a motorcycle accident in the 1970s.



After being diagnosed Doan took the usual precautions; he stopped drinking and had quarterly blood tests. But he felt tired all the time. In 1997 his liver worsened, and his doctors put him on a transplant list. “They told me the wait would be three years,” Doan says. He quit work and moved to Florida to be near his children from a previous marriage.



He also began plotting a new startup company. A twice-successful entrepreneur in the field of data networking, Doan couldn’t stop thinking and dreaming, even though it was likely he was dying. Some people–though one supposes not many–are like that. Even when dying they think and dream. Doan’s problem was with the thinking part. “By 1998,” he recalls, “there were so many toxins in my body and brain that I had symptoms of Alzheimer’s. My short-term memory was disappearing, and I had to write everything down on yellow pads or I’d forget. And, at best, my energy level was good for a three-hour stretch.”



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