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Kidney for Kevin

$38,405 of $25,000 goal

Raised by 453 people in 10 months
Created September 17, 2018
My mom and stepdad need your help. In October 2015, Kevin started having pain in his shoulders and legs. He spent November going from doctor to doctor without anyone knowing what was wrong with him. By Thanksgiving, he was in the hospital, where doctors told him he was lucky to still be alive.

Kevin was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease called Anca Vasculitis. By the time he was diagnosed, the disease had caused his kidneys to fail. Throughout most of 2016, Kevin was constantly sick from the drug treatments he received and unable to do anything that required physical exertion. Most people don’t know that this was going on while he was finishing writing his new North Carolina Waterfalls book. He had to leave out some waterfalls because of it and he had to get a friend of his to make some of the hikes for him.

By 2017, Kevin was feeling much better, but his kidneys were getting worse and he still couldn’t do hard hikes like he used to do. In November of 2017, he was placed on the kidney transplant list. Soon after, his doctor told him that his kidney failure had reach Stage 5 and that he would have to start dialysis while he awaited a new kidney.

 Anyone who knows my stepdad knows that having a disease that prevents you from doing physical activity is like a death sentence for him. But he has kept a positive attitude and even managed to go hiking every once in a while. Through his strength and my mom's support, he was able to continue doing his job of leading photo tours (although he had to cut back on that as well). But going on dialysis for 4 hours a day, 3 days a week, would pretty much mean the end to all that.

What Kevin needed was an angel, and with happy tears running down my face I get to say: that’s exactly what he got! My mom, Patricia, is going to donate one of her kidneys to him. Talk about soul mates. The transplant is scheduled for October 23 in Chapel Hill.

Kevin has missed a lot of work and they’ve paid nearly $50K on medical bills and expenses since he got sick. He currently has insurance to pay for the transplant, but his deductible is sky high and insurance will only cover the transplant, not all the other costs they will incur such as time missed from work and travel expenses. And he will have to take anti-rejection drugs for the rest of his life, which currently cost $17K a year. Medicare will cover the cost of the drugs for 3 years, but after that, he is on his own.

My mom and stepdad are good, caring people who would do anything to help others in need. With all of the expenses they now face, I think they could use some help themselves.
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Final update from Kevin: Wow, what a journey! To say that Patricia and I have been overwhelmed would be a gross understatement. We were not prepared for the incredible outpouring of support from our friends and family and even from people we do not know. As I said in the last update, this experience has affected us deeply and it will influence how we live the rest of our lives.

We are both doing very well. We are back home now. We both have clearance to drive, but as we learned yesterday when we drove back from our checkup, we must take it very easy and only do short trips for now. We are getting around well and walking regularly, but we can’t lift much weight and picking up stuff from the floor or putting on our socks is still fun for others to watch. I can walk well on level ground, but it will be awhile before I can hit the trails. I can’t carry my camera pack and tripod yet.

Based on how well we’re recovering, we expect to be back to some semblance of normal by the first of December. Patricia is going back to work the first week of December and I’m planning to hit the trails after Thanksgiving and start getting my body back in shape. By January, I expect to be back to normal and am already planning where to go when the first snows hit.

We want to thank everyone again for everything you’ve done for us. In addition to the donations we received on the GoFundMe campaign, many of you have sent us donations directly. You’ve cooked meals for us, opened your homes to us, driven us to doctor’s appointments and the grocery store, carried heavy items for us, and even given us firewood since I’m not able to operate a chain saw just yet. So many of you have sent us loving cards, called us, and prayed for us. Some of you donated only $5 because that’s all you could afford. We both cried when we received it. We feel so incredibly blessed. No matter what happens to us financially, we are the richest people in the world.

Lauren gave me access to this campaign so I could post updates and thank donors. At first, I didn’t realize that when I thanked people the message header indicated that the thank you was coming from Lauren. If you received one of those first thank yous that did not include my name, please know that I sent it personally.

You’ve enabled us to get through our surgeries and helped us face our daunting financial future. You’ve helped restore our faith in humanity. You’ve humbled us. You’ve changed our lives. We thank you.
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SURGERIES WENT EXTREMELY WELL!! Kevin official has Patricia's kidney and has already put it to work. I tell you, these two were troopers yesterday. It was a long day but more than worth it. Mom and Kevin are recuperating at UNC , hopefully to be discharged later this week. Thank you all for your love and support. Your kind words and extreme generosity gave us a beacon of light while we waited for yesterday to come and go. THANK YOU!!
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The past three weeks have been very emotional for Patricia and me. We struggled with the idea of Lauren starting a GoFundMe campaign for us. I particularly wrestled with the idea of sharing my personal life with the world. You know me, I don’t even like to post selfies. I have to say, this has been an incredibly humbling experience all the way around. I am literally overwhelmed by the love and support everyone has given us and I feel like I will spend the rest of my life trying to be worthy of it. If I have missed thanking anyone personally, I am sorry. Please know that I greatly appreciate your love and support.

Everyone who donated to this campaign and shared it on Facebook holds a special place in our hearts. I want to give a shout out to four people who helped make this campaign such a success: my stepdaughter Lauren, who started the campaign, Doug Gardner, who got it rolling and kept it going, and Jack Buchanan and Holly Smith Bass, who have been our biggest cheerleaders. Thank you all so much!

Patricia and I go to Chapel Hill on 10/15 for pre-ops. If all checks out well, the surgery will take place the following week on 10/23. I will be in the hospital for about a week and will be spending about 10 days in High Point with friends after discharge. After that, we’ll be back home. The primary recovery period will be about 4-6 weeks. I expect to be back on the trail before the first winter snows come.

~Kevin
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$38,405 of $25,000 goal

Raised by 453 people in 10 months
Created September 17, 2018
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