The Journey begins!
It sounds like a cliché but one that serves the purpose of this blog. For some, this may come as a surprise—this journey—one that will allow you to take a snapshot view of my last 16 years. A few have been aware for some time that I have been experiencing health issues that were compounded last June when I was admitted to the hospital. It happened—just as I was about to celebrate the close of a school year—Summer on my mind—my life changed. After a long school year, I was looking forward to sleeping in late, a new summer gig at a neighboring public library as a librarian, and traveling around with a new best bud!  However, God had other plans.

Around 1:30 in the morning, I awoke to shortness of breath. I woke my son and requested he stay with me in my bedroom. I was afraid to fall asleep—afraid to close my eyes. As my son entered my bedroom, he asked: “Mommy what’s wrong?” I said, “I don’t know. I don’t feel right! I feel like I am having problems catching my breath.” As I calmed down, I felt a little better. I decided to lay down–but, no more than a half-hour later, the feelings and uncomfortableness returned. I asked my 20 year-old son, Justin, “You think I should go to the hospital?” He squirmed in his sleep, but said,” You know how you feel—if you think you should, then you should. I will take you!” It was highly reassuring to hear him take that position because it forced me to make a decision. Even though it was 2:30 a.m., I told him, I believed it was time.

The Hospital
So we left for Piedmont Fayette hospital. The ER doctor determined that my SAT levels were low, my body was dehydrated, and I was suffering with respiratory failure. After all the tests, they thought a hospital stay was warranted for at least 2 days. I agreed! Now, I must say, if you are confined to a hospital—Piedmont Fayette is a great giver of care, and the food was awesome—it was as good as any 5-Star restaurant. In fact, it was so good, I brought the menu home.

Life Changes
Ultimately, my life changed June 5, 2011 when my lungs failed; however, since 1996, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease—mixed connective tissue disease. The immune system can’t tell the difference between healthy body tissue and antigens and will attack itself. The diagnosis was not right away because the doctors could not assign me as having Lupus, Scleroderma, Rheumatoid Arthritis or Sjogren’s syndrome. Recently, you may recall that Venus Williams has been diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndromeit is an autoimmune disease. Also, Nick Cannon was diagnosed with a similar disorder—Lupus-Like autoimmune disease. Autoimmune disorders may affect one or more organs—in my case, the lungs. However, early on in the disease process, my liver was affected.  I developed autoimmune hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver–occurs when immune cells mistake the liver’s normal cells for harmful invaders and attack them. This was treated with a high dose of prednisone for nearly a year, and for me, the outcome was successful with no life-long damage to my liver.

Over the years, I have received medical care from the best doctors and hospitals in the country–including, Dr. William Richardson in Atlanta, a board certified medical doctor who specializes in preventive medicine, my rheumatologist, Dr. Gary Myerson in Atlanta, (adore this guy–keeps it real), Brigham and Women’s Hospital (team of doctors from a variety of specialties) in Boston, and Emory Hospital, in Atlanta. All have played critical roles in my healthcare along with their dedication to offer me the best treatment. Their respect to include me in the decision-making process is why I selected them in managing my healthcare over the years.

Now, I have undergone all evaluative exams and have been found to be a perfect candidate for transplant. My medical team (Emory Transplant Team) has recommended a single or double lung transplant. I am looking for creative ideas to raise funds that will be deposited into an account at Georgia Transplant Foundation. I recently submitted my application and am awaiting them to assign me an account.

Why Fund-Raise?
The organization will match funds up to $10,000 raised prior to transplant. Any funds raised will help pay for expenses such as anti-rejection and other drugs, my stay at the Mason House Guest House, (near Emory campus) a private retreat that offers low cost housing for organ transplant candidates, recipients, living donors, and families, and other expenses related to medical care.

Ideas for Fund-Raising

  • A fish-fry (Hosted by Mirna-Chevry Cesar, August 25, 2012),
  • A service project for children, teens or any organization,
  • Alumni of UNT, Dillard,  Georgia College (GCSU) and Northeast H.S. might sponsor an event separately; or
  • Creating a coin jar at your office or library; yard sale; bake sale, etc.

To Make a Donation Now

  • Click on the Donate button below to make a donation today!
  • Mail donations to: Deborah Gail Simmons, 420 N. Fayette Drive, Fayetteville, GA 30214.
  • Any funds received will be transferred into an account established at the Georgia Transplant Foundation once the account has been assigned.

Project Managers/Volunteers/Contributors
Can you function as a project manager for an alumni group? If so, send me an e-mail. Or, if you would like to make a monetary contribution, then let me know.

Progress Updates
I will be blogging and letting you know the progress of the fund and how I am doing along the way. Let the fund-raising begin! And, remember, “Keep Hope Alive!”

No gift is too small! Pennies count too!

May God richly bless all of you.
Is anything too hard for the LORD? Genesis 18:14
Love you all, Deborah