In 2008, Ronny Todd, a former Rockingham resident who moved to Fayetteville, lost a drastic amount of weight and was diagnosed with emphysema after seeing a doctor.
For someone who had never had any major health problems, this came as quite a shock. At the time, no treatment was necessary, but his illness worsened over the years. He was hospitalized earlier this year, and doctors now say a lung transplant is critical to his survival. Before he can be added to the transplant waiting list, he must gain weight and strength to withstand the surgery.
Todd worked as a mason for many years. Now 59, Todd started out as a firefighter. He grew up with family in Rockingham and lived in western North Carolina for many years. Now Todd is preparing to relocate to Duke Hospital to get ready for a lung transplant, and a fund raising effort is under way to help with relocation expenses.
On www.transplants.org you can search for Ronny Todd in Fayetteville, and make a donation. The fund raising goal is $25,000 and so far $2,725 has been raised. These donations are tax deductible, according to Todd’s mother Susan Adame of Rockingham, who has been taking care of Todd.
“He did not get on oxygen until May,” said Adame. “He went to the emergency room in February and it’s been downhill ever since. I came from Albuquerque in March. My husband worked there with the USDA, and they are relocating him to Greensboro so we can be closer to Duke.”
Todd will need to be within two hours of Duke at all times once he goes on the transplant list. In order to get on the list, Todd must first “beef up,” according to his mom. Todd was having a difficult time exhaling, and couldn’t get a deep breath. Adame said the doctors told them Todd has 16 percent lung capacity left, “and anything under 20 percent is scary.”
“In June the doctors said his only option was a transplant but he needed to get stronger,” said Adame. “He was going to the hospital in Moore County for pre-transplant pulmonary rehab. That included breathing treatment with a nebulizer and he has a rescue inhaler.”
According to Adame, in March Todd, who stands 6 feet tall, weighed 121 pounds.
“So you can imagine when I went to hug him and felt nothing but bones, it scared me to death,” said his mother. “To be on the transplant list he needs to get up to 150 pounds. He’s been drinking three Ensure a day, which is expensive. But on Dec. 6 he weighed 145 pounds and last night with clothes on he weighed 150.2. I’ve been cooking for him and giving him sweets.”
The average lung transplant costs approximately $550,000. And that’s only the beginning. Even though his health insurance will cover the cost of the transplant itself, he faces significant expenses related to the surgery. For the rest of his life, he will need follow-up care and daily anti-rejection medications, which are as critical to his survival as the transplant.
Adame remains strong and supportive for Todd, despite having had a mastectomy in 2011. She had her last chemotherapy treatment on Nov. 26. She said the key to her strength is staying optimistic through faith and always seeking the positive in things. She said Todd remains optimistic as well, and has many friends who stand by him in hard times. One family pledged to make donations to Todd’s fund this year for Christmas instead of giving each other gifts. You can do the same.
You can help by making a tax-deductible donation to the National Foundations of Transplants for Todd. If you’d prefer to send your gift by mail, send it to the NFT North Carolina Transplant Fund, 5350 Poplar Avenue, Suite 430, Memphis, TN 38119. Make sure to write “in honor of Ronny Todd” on the memo line.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.