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‘Miracles of March’

AHOSKIE – Nearly 20 years have passed since Patricia Watford found a new lease on life thanks to a double transplant operation.

After a life full of medical problems, Watford’s life took a dramatic turn in March of 1998 when an 11-hour medical procedure successfully replaced a kidney and pancreas.

Her kidneys were ravaged from years of juvenile diabetes, which was diagnosed when Watford was just seven years old. Still, she managed to lead a good life, until 1996 when diabetes caused her to lose her eyesight. By the time she was 30, the diabetes also caused her to lose all kidney function and she had to begin regular dialysis treatments.

Even with all of that, Watford didn’t worry. Her faith in God was strong, and she found that most of the good things that happened in her life were during the month of March. She got her first job in March. She leased an apartment the following March after her operation. When she lost her eyesight she had faith it would return. It did. In March. Her biggest miracle came the next year when she underwent transplant surgery on March 12, 1998. A new kidney allowed her to have freedom from dialysis and a new pancreas cured her diabetes.

While waiting for an organ match, Watford’s family mobilized volunteers to raise money to help pay for her share of the expensive transplant surgery. Her supporters turned to the National Foundation for Transplants (NFT) for help. The nonprofit organization assists volunteers in organizing fundraising campaigns for transplant patients around the country. NFT showed Watford’s supporters how to organize a fundraising campaign and mobilize volunteers.

After receiving her new organs, Watford used her second chance at life to finish her college degree, become a substitute teacher, write a book and record a CD that spreads her joy and love of God.

But these last 20 years have also come with their share of difficulties. She’s struggled to pay for the medications and follow-up care that come with keeping her body from rejecting the new organs. Some prescriptions cost anywhere from $1,500 to $4,000 a month. Her insurance covers a portion of the cost, but Watford has struggled to pay her share.

“Most people don’t realize that beyond the surgery, patients still need a lifetime of medicine and care to keep those organs healthy,” said Claire Prince, a fundraising consultant for the National Foundation for Transplants. “We are thrilled at Watford’s energy and passion. And we understand the difficulty in her current financial situation. We’re hoping the community will rally once again to help one of their own.”

Watford’s family and friends are once again turning to their community for help with her ongoing expenses. They are hosting “The Miracle Month of March Extravaganza” fundraising event at 3 p.m. on Saturday March 11 at Ahoskie United Methodist Church, located at 212 West Church Street. It includes a gospel concert featuring Watford, along with Sons of Faith, Edenton District AME Zion Church choir, La’tisha Bonner, Joe Evans and others.

There’s no charge to attend the concert. Organizers are asking for a donation of any amount to be made to the National Foundation for Transplants to help offset Watford’s transplant expenses. There will also be a raffle for several prizes.

Tax-deductible donations may also be sent to NFT North Carolina Transplant Fund, 5350 Poplar Ave. Suite 430, Memphis, TN 38119. Please write Watford’s name on the memo line at the bottom of the check. Donations can also be made at www.transplants.org. Donors can search for Watford’s name by clicking on “Finding an NFT Patient.”

NFT is a Memphis-based nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that helps patients around the country raise money for transplant surgeries in their own communities. The relationship with NFT and the patient lasts a lifetime. NFT’s fundraising campaigns have generated nearly $75 million to assist more than 2,500 patients nationwide.

To learn more about NFT, call 800-489-3863 or visit www.transplants.org.

 

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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