Durham woman awaits kidney transplant, fundraisers to help

Durham, N.C., March 5, 2012 – Deborah Stewart is waiting for the phone call that will change her life. She needs a kidney transplant, but the costs are overwhelming. Volunteers are planning several fundraisers to help.

In 2004, Stewart received a liver transplant after battling sarcoidosis, a disease that caused inflammation of her liver. Her essential post-transplant medications caused irreversible damage to her kidneys, and doctors now say a kidney transplant is critical to her survival.

Despite these challenges, Stewart, 60, remains positive by spending time with her four children and her four grandchildren, who mean the world to her. Although her illness prevents her from doing things around the house, she stays busy by reading and doing crafts, but she looks forward to resuming her normal active lifestyle after receiving her kidney transplant. More than anything, she dreams of getting a good night’s sleep and having the energy to pick up her grandchildren again.

A kidney transplant costs approximately $250,000. Even with health coverage, she will need follow-up care and daily anti-rejection medications for the rest of her life. Post-transplant medications can cost $1,000 to $2,000 per month, and they are as necessary to her survival as the transplant itself.

Stewart previously enjoyed her job as a dental assistant, but her declining health forced her to stop working, adding to the financial strain.

To overcome these financial challenges, Stewart 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.

“Fighting a life-threatening illness is difficult in itself,” said Lauren Wilmer, NFT fundraising consultant. “but Deborah has the added stress of mounting medical bills. At NFT, we’re dedicated to helping her raise the necessary funds so she can focus on her health without constantly worrying about the costs.”

Volunteers are planning two upcoming fundraisers:

Saturday, March 17, community members are encouraged to dine at El Dorado Mexican Restaurant, 4900 NC Hwy. 55. The restaurant will donate 10 percent of sales to help with Stewart’s expenses. Diners must present a ticket for meals to be counted in the percentage. For a copy of the ticket, please contact Tiwana Adams at 629adams@gmail.com.

Saturday, April 14, volunteers are planning a silent auction from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Markham Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, 3630 Old Chapel Hill Rd. There is no admission fee, but donations are strongly encouraged. Light refreshments will be served, and auction items include art, jewelry, gift certificates to local retailers and more.

For more information about either event or to donate auction items, please contact Tiwana Adams at 629adams@gmail.com or 919-740-9894.

To make donations in honor of Stewart, please visit www.transplants.org and click on “Patients We Help” to search for her. If you prefer to mail your contribution, please send your gift to the NFT North Carolina Transplant Fund, 5350 Poplar Avenue, Suite 430, Memphis, TN 38119. Be sure to write “in honor of Deborah Stewart” 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 and advocacy to transplant patients by organizing fundraising campaigns in the patients’ own communities. In the past 29 years, NFT’s fundraising campaigns have generated nearly $60 million to assist patients.

NFT currently assists more than 1,200 transplant candidates and recipients nationwide. For more information about NFT, please call 800-489-3863 or visit www.transplants.org.