MENTOR, OH (WOIO) - From now on, Terri Watkins will celebrate two birthdays. Her birthday in May will celebrate the day she was born, while her "new" birthday on August 5 will celebrate the day she received a lifesaving liver transplant.
In 2009, Watkins, 50, was diagnosed with non-alcoholic cirrhosis due to alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, a genetic disorder when the body does not produce enough protein to protect the liver. Doctors said a liver transplant was her only hope for a second chance at life. Thankfully, she received her transplant on August 5, 2012.
Although she has faced many obstacles, Watkins is thankful for her husband, David, her two daughters and family and friends, who have supported her throughout such a difficult time.
A liver transplant costs about $525,000 and even with health coverage, Watkins faces considerable medical expenses related to her transplant. For the rest of her life, she will need follow-up care and daily anti-rejection medications. The cost of post-transplant medications is very expensive, and they are as vital to her survival as the transplant itself.
To help relieve the financial stress, Watkins turned to the National Foundation for Transplants (NFT) for assistance. NFT is a nonprofit organization that helps patients raise funds to pay for transplant-related expenses.
"Obviously, I'm thrilled Terri received her transplant," said Claire Prince, NFT fundraising consultant. "But so many people don't realize the lifelong expenses related to transplantation. At NFT, we want to continue helping the Watkins family raise the necessary funds to keep Terri healthy and happy, without constantly worrying about the medical bills."
The community is encouraged to attend Spirit Night at Chick-Fil-A, 7850 Mentor Ave. in Mentor, on Thursday, Nov. 29 from 5 to 8 p.m. Patrons can mention their purchasing their dinner in honor of Watkins, and a portion of those proceeds will go to NFT in her honor.