Want to help?
• What: Chicken-dinner fundraiser
• Why: Help Shuman family with medical costs
• When: Preorder by April 19, pick up from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 24
• How: Purchase at 1st Franklin Financial in Richmond Hill, call 659-1641 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
• Cost: $8 per dinner
• More donations: At Heritage Bank to Timmy Shuman Liver/Kidney Transplant Fund, account No. 42092783$.
• Online: gofundme.com/timmyshuman or on Facebook
The gofundme.com Web page set up to help raise money for Timmy Shuman describes him as a humble, kind man who loves God and his family.
It also says Shuman, 54, who was born and raised in Richmond Hill and worked for more than 20 years as a custodian for the Bryan County Board of Education, is suffering.
After years of dialysis, Shuman has experienced renal and liver failure. On Feb. 25, he was taken by ambulance from Savannah to Emory Hospital.
At Emory, doctors decided Shuman is a good candidate for a liver and kidney transplant, and so Shuman now is on a list, waiting.
Waiting with him are family, including his wife, Polly; four children; and three grandchildren.
His sister, Barbara Smith, said the process has been a grueling one for her brother.
“He loses several days at a time,” Smith said, referring to what happens when ammonia levels build up in his body and attack his brain. He’s also had stints in the intensive-care unit, as doctors had to intubate him to help bring down the ammonia levels.
“It’s grueling physically. His wife is up there with him in a strange place, and we’re all trying to go back and forth to stay with them,” Smith said. “Timmy is just such an outgoing personality. To see him now, you wouldn’t know that because he’s so sick.”
Shuman is assured of a dramatic improvement once a donor comes through.
It’s finding a way to pay for the care and transportation surrounding Shuman’s transplant that led Smith’s friend, Delia Mobley of Statesboro, to set up the gofundme page. She set a target goal of $8,000, but that might be drop in the bucket.
Shuman currently is staying at Emory’s Mason House, a private retreat that offers what a website calls low-cost housing for organ-transplant candidates.
It charges $45 a night for a standard room, or $80 a night for a bedroom suite. Shuman’s medication, once he gets the transplant, could be $10,000 to $15,000, annually.
Insurance will cover some of the costs, but not nearly all, Smith said.
Her brother has had diabetes for several years, and it was the need for dialysis that eventually forced Shuman to retire.
“It broke his heart to have to retire,” Smith said. “But he had no choice, he couldn’t carry on the work. Dialysis takes so much out of you.”
But it didn’t stop Shuman from living. He is active in his church, Richmond Hill Full Gospel, and “has a passion for gospel music.”
Shuman’s passion eventually translated into a gospel CD, “The Answer Came,” which was recorded and produced by Sounds of Worship in March 2014.
The CD sold 250 copies.
“I bought a copy and have it at home,” said Clara Shearouse, who has worked for the Board of Education for 26 years. “Timmy is a great guy. I have known him for a long time.”
Shearouse said that when her father was dying in 1990, Timmy, his mother and a group drove from Richmond Hill to her home in North Bryan to sing Christmas songs on the front porch and then were invited in to visit with her father.
“They were attending a church my dad’s childhood friend preached at. His name was Lawton Smith, brother to former Tax Commissioner Blondean Newman,” Shearouse recalled.
Mobley said Shuman is well-known and highly thought of, and she is looking forward to his quality of life improving.
“He’s always been very active in the community and in his church,” Smith said. “He would like nothing better (than) to get back to where he can do that again. This transplant will change his life.”
Smith said doctors believe he will get the transplant sooner rather than later. She added that her brother’s sickness made an impact on her in another way.
“I’ve been an organ donor for a while now,” she said, “but I’ve never realized how important it is until now.”