Thomas Smith developed Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes at age 12 but youthful energy allowed him to do the things that most kids do. He played baseball and football, and attended school.
Now at 31, the disease has finally taken its toll on him. He receives hourly insulin pump injections and is suffering from stage 4 renal failure and hypertension. With his kidneys functioning at only 15 percent, he is in need of a double organ transplant — both kidney and pancreas.
“I have good days and bad days,” said Smith, who now lives with his father in Douglasville but attended Salem High School from 1997 to 2000.
Family and friends have stepped up to the plate to help Smith with costs related to the transplant. On Saturday, Sept. 7, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., a fund-raising yard sale to benefit Smith will take place on the grounds of the American Legion Post 77 in Conyers.
Organized by Smith’s aunts, Melody Smith of Walton County and Vanessa Jackson of Newton County, who both work at a local company together, the yard sale will offer clothes, household décor items, furniture (such as a computer desk and chair), a punching bag set with boxing gloves, a Gibson electric guitar, a Play Station computer game system and other items the women have been collecting from co-workers and family members.
While health insurance should cover most of the cost of the operation, the cost of the post-operative medicine is prohibitive. Smith said the anti-rejection medication can run between $600 to $1,000 per month out-of-pocket.
Money raised at the yard sale will fund the post-operative medicine fund-raising account.
The Georgia Transplant Foundation will match any money that Smith raises up to $10,000. If he raises a sufficient amount by Dec. 3, his chances of obtaining a spot on the transplant list increase greatly, he said. Getting on the list is the first hurdle. Then Smith will have to wait for a proper donor, which could take one to two years.
Meanwhile, Smith undergoes dialysis several times a week. He cannot work now because of his health, but does attend classes at West Georgia Technical College, where he is pursuing an associates degree in criminal justice. He wants to work as a probation officer. He is also engaged to be married in October.
Smith’s family and friends are hoping that he achieves his goals.
“Time is not something he can afford right now. He’s not in critical condition but he’s kind of in the doorway of it. If he doesn’t get the transplant, then things are going to start failing him,” said his aunt Melody Smith. “If he had the transplant, he could have a very good quality of life at this point.”
To learn more or to donate items for the yard sale, call Melody Smith at 770-601-7298 or Vanessa Jackson at 678-314-7524. Also, visit http://client.gatransplant.org/Client/tpsmith81.