This gofundme page is set up to raise funds for both my dad, Bert Tiger Whitehead IV, and his friend, Jerome Espy. My dad is donating his kidney on December 7, 2018 to Mr. Espy. Below, you can read a note from my dad, as well as Jerome’s inspirational testimonial about what this gift means to him.
We need financial help for both of them, who will both lose significant income during their recovery. The recovery period is expected to be up to 6 weeks. My dad, who is a full-time attorney in Michigan, does not have disability insurance that covers “elective” surgeries, such as voluntary organ-donation. This will particularly impact his ability to drive, to go to hearings, to attend mediations, and to have new-client consultations.
Also, although my dad’s surgery costs themselves are covered by Mr. Espy’s medical insurance, once my dad’s personal medical insurance renews, it is expected to increase significantly due to this donation. Lastly, my dad’s life insurance premiums will certainly be increasing significantly because of this decision.
Anyone who knows my dad knows what a selfless, generous, and humble man he is. He is the first one to give help and the last one to ask for help. Therefore, we are raising money for lost income for both my dad and Mr. Espy, for one year of medical insurance for each, for increased life insurance premiums, and any other unexpected costs as a result of this gift.
Thank you so much!
Message from Mr. Jerome Espy. “The Journey” —————————————————————
As of the end of this year, I will have been on dialysis for nearly four years. To say this process has been challenging would not even begin to explain how difficult it has been. My quality of life has changed dramatically since I found out I had End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) and I was going to have to go on dialysis.
Before I was diagnosed, I was living a full and vibrant life. I was working in my own business, I was able to travel and enjoy friends and family, and I was able to make it through the day with a modicum of energy.
My diagnosis changed all of that. I have been doing dialysis at home every night. Yes, every single night for nearly four years. There are some people that are able to go to a clinic three or four times a week. Instead, I made the decision to do home peritoneal dialysis. This gave me more freedom and flexibility in my schedule.
Throughout the process, my wife, family and I have believed solidly that God was going to make a way for me to return to a normal life. Even though I have seen a number of friends die of the same disease over the time I have been on dialysis, I believed the promise God gave me. I have stood strong on the scripture in Psalms 118:17- “I will live and not die...”
Having chronic kidney disease is horrible on my body and my energy levels. Depending on the day, I can feel anywhere from pretty fair to awful. When people ask me how I am doing, I always say that I am working to keep my head in a good place and enjoying the journey.
Dialysis is not normal. It is anything but normal. Throughout this journey, what I do on a daily basis and how I feel has become the new normal. But, it is only temporary, according God’s promise to me.
What the possibility of a transplant means-
When my wife and I went to the birthday celebration for Pastor Tyrone on March 10 of this year, I wasn’t feeling particularly well. As a matter of fact, I had considered not even going to the event. But sitting at the table with Tiger and brother Clyde Montgomery was a miracle. I’m not one to let people in on what I am going through, but I felt like I should explain what was going on.
I was talking at our table about how I was feeling. And, in a speed that caught my wife and I by surprise, Tiger calmly said, “If I am a match, I’d give you a kidney.” My wife and I were surprised and ecstatic on the inside. One of the things my dialysis peer mentors let me know is there are a lot of things that can go wrong while you’re waiting for a kidney. Even people that come forward may not end up qualifying in the end.
I don’t believe in coincidences but I do believe in divine intersections. This relatively common birthday party turned into an uncommon miracle for me and my family. Even before I began dialysis, I was asked if I wanted to be on the donor list. I immediately said yes. The next words out of the doctor’s mouth were, these things can take a long time-Sometimes 10 years or longer.
When I think about those words, I think about the four years I’ve been on dialysis. To someone who doesn’t understand, that may seem like a long time. But in the scope of what God has planned, he had a divine plan to put in motion already on March 10.
The idea that someone I know from church would volunteer to give me a life-saving kidney is phenomenal. It takes a special person to give a part of their body to someone else. And I am eternally grateful for the gift Tiger and his family are giving to me.
How will this change my life?
This transplant is going to change my very existence. It will change my energy level, my overall health, my outlook in general and my focus in life. I want to stress again, I understand this is anything but a common situation happening to me. This is a divine miracle.
My God, through Tiger, is saving my life. And I know that I will never forget the gift that is being given to me or the idea that there is a purpose for God extending my life.
I have committed myself to honoring the gift that is being given to me and living a life to the full, doing absolutely everything I can to enjoy this journey and to complete my purpose here on this earth. Thank you for helping us to make this happen.
Sincerely, Jerome Espy
Message from Bert Whitehead IV ——————————————————-
I appreciate everyone who can help me to give this gift to my friend, Jerome. Jerome and I have known each other for several years, having met at church and having been in the same men’s group at church. We lost contact for some years, and then re-connected due to God bringing us together at another friend’s birthday party. Now, Jerome and I talk daily on a phone call with other men where we get together at 8 am each weekday on a conference call and pray for one another, encourage one another, bring the Word of God to one another etc.
When I learned of Jerome’s life with this illness, and the need he has for a kidney, I just thought that if I could help, I would. God has given me excellent health, and I am glad to be able to share that blessing of health with my friend, Jerome. My only worry, although God provides, has been about the impact to my income, ability to have consultations and earn new business, meet clients, attend hearings, plus the extra costs mentioned above, and the extra burden on my family who must tend to me hand-and-foot during my recovery. But that is short-term, and I hope Jerome lives a long and healthy life with his new kidney.