PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh has once again shown the size of its heart, raising more than $50,000 for North Carolina woman who needs a double-lung transplant.
On Thursday night, we reported that Lethia Everette had come to UPMC in hopes of getting that a lifesaving surgery. But her insurance will only cover part of her expenses.
To get on the transplant list, she was told she’d have to come up with $40,000 – money she does not have.
“I just want to thank everybody in advance for your support if you can, if not continue to lift me up in prayer, and I thank you again for everything.”
That’s what Everette said Thursday night on KDKA-TV News. At the time, her online fundraising campaign had a total of $2,650. But then thousands of you saw the story about the auto-immune disease that is destroying her lungs and has made her deathly ill. By Friday night more than $50,000 had been raised.
You heard her husband, Ervin, talk about their family.
“I can’t describe to you how important this woman is to me and my boys,” he said.
And you heard her doctor talk about how she’s medically cleared for a transplant.
But, Dr. Jonathan D’Cunha, of UPMC Presbyterian Hospital, says, “Her current burden is her financial situation and her insurance status to support the operation and the cost associated with that.”
Immediately, the donations started coming in to the “Lungs for Lethia” fundraising page on YouCaring.com. Within 24 hours, the total had surged from less than $3,000 to more than $26,000. Click here to read more of Lethia’s story.
Ronya Mahaffey donated $200 and wrote, “It’s no coincidence that I happened to tune in just before you aired your message. I understood right away that I was supposed to see and hear you.”
An anonymous, $300 donor wrote, “Saw your story on KDKA and wanted to help. We saw the love in your family and wish you the best.”
We asked one woman, who donated $1,000, to explain what made her and so many others decide to help a stranger.
“I looked at the TV, and I looked into her eyes, I just felt so much compassion and love for her,” said the donor who wanted to remain anonymous. “I would just say if you have that compassion in your heart to care for this woman, and to see this situation she’s in, open up your heart and give.”
Dr. Cynthia Gries, Lethia’s pulmonologist, tells KDKA all of her transplant patients need to fundraise because the expenses are so extraordinary, even with insurance. Most have months to do so, but in Lethia’s case, there is unusual urgency because of how ill she was when she arrived here.
Dr. Gries says Lethia’s case will be re-evaluated early next week, and with the financial progress being made, he’s hopeful Lethia will be promptly added to the transplant list.
To help her, visit: http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/lungs-for-lethia/305928