Cinnaminson woman awaiting double-lung transplant

Cherry Hill, N.J., July 9, 2013 –Nereida Smith, of Cinnaminson, would love nothing more than to take a deep breath, but easy breathing is a luxury she simply doesn’t have.

In the mid-90s, Smith, 56, took numerous trips to the ER because of bronchitis, pneumonia and abdominal pain. Eventually she was diagnosed with systemic scleroderma, an autoimmune disorder causing her immune system to attack her lungs, which worsened until she developed pulmonary fibrosis.

Over the past several months, Smith’s condition has deteriorated, and she has spent time in and out of the hospital. Doctors say a double-lung transplant is her only hope for survival. Because her illness has also damaged her esophagus, Nereida will require a feeding tube for several months post-transplant.

A double-lung transplant costs approximately $650,000. And that's only the beginning. Even with health coverage, which will assist with the transplant costs, she will need follow-up care and daily anti-rejection medications for the rest of her life. Post-transplant medications can be very costly, and they are as critical to her survival as the transplant itself.

To overcome these financial challenges, Smith turned to the National Foundation for Transplants (NFT) for assistance. NFT is a nonprofit organization that helps transplant patients raise funds to pay for medical expenses.

“My heart goes out to Nereida,” said Claire Prince, NFT fundraising consultant. “I know how badly she wants to attend family functions and be there for her children and grandchildren. At NFT, we want to help her raise the funds she needs to focus on her health and her family, not medical bills.”

To help Smith with her expenses, volunteers are holding “Breath of Life,” a fundraiser on Sunday, July 21 from 2 to 6 p.m. at P.J. Whelihan’s Pub, 1854 E. Marlton Pike in Cherry Hill.

Admission is $20 per person and will include entry into a drawing for a door prize. The event will include a buffet dinner, 50/50 raffle, Chinese auction and entertainment by DJ Mix Masta B and Edgardo Cintron & Friends.

For more information, please contact Sandra Domenech at smn73@aol.com.

To make a donation in Smith’s honor, please visit http://patients.transplants.org/nereidasmith. If you prefer to mail your contribution, please send your gift to the NFT New Jersey Transplant Fund, 5350 Poplar Avenue, Suite 430, Memphis, TN 38119. Be sure to write “in honor of Nereida Smith” in the subject line.

About NFT

NFT is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization based in Memphis, Tenn. that has been helping transplant patients overcome financial obstacles since 1983. NFT provides fundraising expertise to transplant patients by organizing fundraising campaigns in the patients’ own communities. In the past 30 years, NFT’s fundraising campaigns have generated nearly $60 million to assist patients. NFT annually assists more than 2,500 transplant candidates and recipients nationwide. For more information about NFT, please call 800-489-3863 or visit www.transplants.org.

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