Tennis fundraiser to help North Andover man awaiting transplant

Middleton, Mass., May 8, 2012 – Ryan Naismith knows exactly how it feels to have a broken heart. He needs a heart transplant and is waiting for the phone call that will change his life. The costs are overwhelming, so volunteers are planning a tennis fundraiser to help.

Naismith’s health troubles began in February 2010, when he went into cardiac arrest after returning home from working a night shift. His girlfriend was able to administer CPR with the guidance of the 911 operator, and paramedics arrived quickly. Naismith underwent Hypothermia Therapy to reduce brain injury, and doctors implanted an internal cardiac defibrillator/pacemaker to assist his heart. He returned to work and enjoyed a good quality of life, even graduating with honors from Northeastern University.

In September 2011, after eating dinner with friends, he suffered a second cardiac arrest and was rushed to the hospital. While hospitalized, he underwent a second Hypothermia Therapy; five days after his second cardiac arrest, he experienced a third cardiac arrest that led to the implantation of a ventricular assist device to keep his heart pumping properly. Doctors now say a heart transplant is critical to his survival.
Naismith, 24, an avid Red Sox fan and rugby player, is determined to overcome these health challenges. Before his initial cardiac arrest, he had been healthy, active and outgoing, and he and his family were shocked when his heart issues surfaced. He is thankful for his family, friends and the medical staff who worked so hard to provide much needed support and care. He looks forward to the lifesaving transplant that will allow him to return to his passion in life—playing rugby. He was and hopes to continue to be involved in the Northeastern University Rugby Club on the alumni board for many years. He is currently working as a hospital administrator, but his health problems take a toll on him.

A heart transplant costs approximately $750,000. Although his health insurance will cover a large portion of the costs, he faces significant expenses related to his transplant. For the rest of his life, Naismith will need follow-up care and daily anti-rejection medications, which can be very costly.

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

“Ryan has faced more obstacles in the past two years than many people face in a lifetime,” said Claire Prince, NFT fundraising consultant. “On top of his health concerns, he has the added pressure of mounting medical bills. Those lifelong expenses can be devastating, and many people don’t realize the magnitude of costs related to transplantation. At NFT, we are dedicated to helping Ryan’s family raise the necessary funds so they can focus on his health without constantly worrying about the costs.”

Volunteers are planning a tennis fundraiser Saturday, May 19 at Northeast Tennis Center, 123 River St. in Middleton. The Round Robin format begins at 2 p.m., and admission is $40, which includes playing or watching tennis, food and entertainment provided by Strange Cat People. Admission is the same for participants and spectators, and participants do not need to have a partner. To prepare the correct amount of food, event organizers would prefer advance registration by May 17, but walk-ins are also welcome.

The event will feature a raffle and silent auction for items including restaurant gift certificates, tennis rackets and bags, Red Sox tickets and more. Beer and wine will be available for purchase.

For more information, please contact Ron or Laura Naismith at rnaismith@comcast.net or 978-975-2866.

To make a donation in honor of Naismith, please mail a tax-deductible gift to the NFT Massachusetts Transplant Fund, 5350 Poplar Ave., Suite 430, Memphis, TN 38119. Please be sure to write “in honor of Ryan Naismith” in the memo line. Secure donations also can be made online at www.transplants.org. Donors should click on “Patients We Help” to locate Naismith.

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 has helped generate nearly $60 million to assist patients with their expenses.

NFT currently 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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