When Richmond Hill resident and mother of two Barbara Cline fell ill due to kidney failure, her Sunday School class at First Baptist Church grabbed the reigns and began a campaign to help her raise the funds necessary to receive a kidney transplant.
Although they have yet to reach their goal, the church group has conducted a number of fund raisers. The most recent was last Saturday at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s where $400 was raised for the cause.
For the event, church members got the word out to have people dine at the restaurant while, in turn, restaurant owners Doug and Georgia Goolsby turned over a percentage of the night’s profits. Throughout the evening, members of the church group bussed tables and assisted the wait staff while speaking to guests about their mission.
"This is really what church should be about," said Sunday School teacher John Howell. "If we hear about problems and don’t do anything about them, than what good are we? Any one of us could end up in Barbara’s situation.
"The praise goes to her," Howell continued. "She gets up and deals with this everyday and it has yet to crush to her spirit. She’s got a great attitude and is the same Barbara we know and love."Howell added he feels at times the money they raise may not be quite enough, as not all of their fundraisers have been successful, but is content with the fact that each get-together raises the spirits of not only Barbara, but the whole group, who enjoy spending time together.
Cline said that she is very grateful to the group and that, without fundraising, she would not be able to even be on a donor list. She said that the base cost of the transplant is $200,000 with incremental costs of $2,000 a month for follow-up medication which her insurance pays only half for.
With such a large cost, Cline must show she is making a strong effort to raise the funds or face being dropped from the donor list for not being able to afford it when the time comes. That time is estimated to be several years away. She has been on the transplant list for eight months now, and it takes an average of four years to get to the top of list.
In the meantime, Cline must go through grueling therapy which entail four-hour dialysis treatments three times a week. She said the treatments incapacitate her for the entire day they take place and have lasting effects that are a constant. She also is on 28 different medications and has two tubes in her chest as an entry point for dialysis. All of this keeps her alive though and she said her kidneys don’t work at all.
Cline has had progressive kidney trouble since birth, and even had a kidney transplant surgery in 2000 when her best friend Samantha Stewart donated hers.
That was successful until 2005, when Cline’s body began to reject the donor kidney, bringing her back to square one.
She has tried to state funding only to be rejected. She and her family say that the church group is their saving grace.
"You have no idea how much the church has helped us," said Cline’s 15-year-old daughter Corey. "We were having very little success raising money on our own. Since the church got involved and started to help us with all the fundraising, it’s started us on the path in believing we actually could raise this money."
"She’s just a great person," said church group member Heidi Hunter. "Even though she is in a lot of pain, her wonderful personality shines through. It’s hard for her to even walk down the hall sometimes, but she always attends our class on Sunday and is always cheerful. She is a true friend and I couldn’t see not helping her. She would do for any of us in a heartbeat if the shoe was on the other foot."
Cline said she has not lost hope, and tries to live life on a positive note.
"I try not to get down too much, because there are so many that are worse off," she said. "I think the most frustrating thing is I’m weak all the time because, before this got so bad, I was happy-go-lucky and a go-getter, but it’s like I just can’t be myself anymore. My family and church are a great support system though and they keep me focused and determined to beat this illness."
If you would like to help Barbara, there are donation buckets set out at Savannah Tire, Kroger pharmacy, Ella’s, Movies Music and More and many other locations. Also, $10 tickets are on sale now at the businesses listed above for the next church fundraiser, a low country boil. The pick-up date for the meals is July 1 at First Baptist Church.