COVINGTON - Nick Smith's life took an unexpected turn in August. Just 19 years old, Smith was told by doctors that he was in renal failure and would need a new kidney to survive.
The news came as a shock to Smith's parents, Nita and Danny. Though he had been diagnosed four years earlier with IgA Nephropathy, a kidney disorder that occurs when a protein that helps fight infections settles in the kidneys, Nita Smith said doctors never told the family how serious the complications could be.
"We weren't prepared for any of this as far as knowing he could die from this or would have to do dialysis or anything like that," she said. "It has been very hard for him. It's hard for him to adjust from being a teenager and not being able to have what we consider a normal life."
Since August, Smith has been undergoing four-hour dialysis treatments three times a week and takes five or six medications each day.
He was recently placed on a waiting list for a kidney transplant with the Georgia Transplant Foundation. Before he can have the transplant, however, Smith must raise enough money to cover some of the expenses of medication and treatment he will need after the surgery.
Nita Smith said it will cost about $3,000 per month for her son's medical treatment after he receives the transplant, if he does not have insurance. She estimates a cost of at least $400 per month with an insurance co-pay.
Smith has been too ill to work and is covered under COBRA, with the Georgia Transplant Foundation paying the monthly premiums. However, the foundation will not continue to pay after the transplant, and Smith will be without insurance when coverage runs out in November, his mother said.
Smith's friends and family are pitching in to help raise money by holding a yard sale, with all proceeds to be donated to his medical fund. The sale will take place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Total Child Care Experience at 25 Lovers Lane Road in Covington.
The sale will feature furniture, baby furniture, clothes and more.
The Georgia Transplant Foundation will match up to $10,000 raised by Smith. His mother is hoping the community will help her family reach that goal.
Now 20, her son, who she describes as "upbeat, outgoing and friendly and kind-hearted," has suffered for too long and is ready to return to fun, playing paintball and riding four wheelers.
Donations can also be made directly to the Georgia Transplant Foundation. "Nicholas Smith Transplant Fund" should be written in the memo of checks, which can be mailed to Georgia Transplant Foundation, Attn: Holly Vanager-Crummell, 6600 Peachtree Dunwoody Road at 600 Embassy Row, Suite 250, Atlanta, GA 30328. Contributions can also be made through the foundation's Web site at www.gatransplant.org/client/nicsmith.