Benefit planned for woman in need of transplant

Diane Smith of Gainesville needs a new kidney and a new liver, but she needs $3,000 for anti-rejection medicines before she can get on the transplant waiting list.

AIDA MALLARD/Special to the Guardian
Published: Thursday, January 19, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 at 4:46 p.m.

Sixty-three-year-old Diane Smith has spent most of her life helping the sick, but now she needs a kidney and a liver transplant.



What: Lunch fundraiser for Diane Smith, who needs a kidney and liver transplant.

When: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Bartley Temple United Methodist Church, 1936 NE 8th Ave.

Cost: $7 and $9.

Information: Call 352-256-1553.

But before she can get on the transplant waiting list, Smith must raise $3,000 for anti-rejection medicines. And she needs the community's help to do that. Medicare and Medicaid will pay for the surgery, but not for the medicines.

Smith, a retired certified nursing assistant, said she has had kidney failure for more than 20 years and is on dialysis. Now her liver also is damaged.

"The $3,000 is what Medicare and Medicaid won't cover," said Smith. "It's for anti-rejection medicines and it has to be paid up front to get on the transplant waiting list."

Smith's sister, Eugena Johnson, with help from the United Methodist Women at Bartley Temple United Methodist Church and Sisters Helping Sisters in Need Inc., will host a lunch fundraiser for Smith from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday at Bartley Temple at 1936 NE 8th Ave.

The menu will consist of wings and fries for $7 or pulled pork, baked beans and potato salad for $9. Orders for food can be made in advance by calling Johnson at 352-256-1553 or you can stop by the day of the event and buy food. Delivery also will be available for orders of 10 or more, but arrangements must be made by 5 p.m. Friday by calling Johnson.

Johnson, who will be cooking the food, is an experienced local chef and caterer.

She is the chef/owner of Eugena's Affordable Catering and the chef/owner of the House of Country Cuisine on E. University Avenue, which is now closed, but will open at a later date.

Smith, who moved to east Gainesville from Minnesota in 2009 to be near Johnson after her husband died, has three grown children, 16 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Smith served as a CNA for 34 years in Minnesota, Illinois and Arkansas.

"I enjoyed nursing," Smith said. "I loved taking care of people. God blessed me to do that."

Johnson said family members also are holding fundraisers to help raise money for Smith.

"We're doing all we can so she can get on the transplant waiting list," said Johnson, adding that except for the money, Smith is in compliance with everything she needs to do to get on the transplant waiting list.

Johnson said for nine hours each night and while she sleeps, Smith undergoes dialysis at home. A dialysis machine filters Smith's blood to remove excess water and waste products because her kidneys are not functioning.

"It's important to get the funds ASAP so she can get her place on the list," Johnson said. "This is a life and death situation."

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