By Traci Henderson Smith
Family, Friends, and Communities Coast-To-Coast Gather For First Ever Facebook Live Stream Fundraiser
Curtisha Grant has given new meaning to the phrase a mother’s job is never done. Giving birth to a bouncing baby boy allowed her the opportunity to experience all the joys that bringing new life into the world could generate. Who knew that nineteen years later Curtisha would be confronted with the opportunity to restore her boy, and experience a whole new level of life-giving joy?
Less than one year ago, at age nineteen, Ky’are Grant and his family received the devastating news that his kidneys only had 20% functionality. With no signs or symptoms, on a routine checkup, doctors diagnosed Ky’are with a rare stage four kidney disease called Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis, or FSGS—a disease that occurs more frequently in African American males and attacks and endangers the kidney’s filtering unit; causing severe scarring (sclerosis), permanent kidney damage, and eventual failure.
The Grants were told that day that Ky’are would need a kidney. He was placed on the national donor list, but a kidney would not be available for three years. Even with drastic life-sustaining dietary changes, within three months of the initial diagnosis, Ky’are found himself on a three-times-a-week dialysis regimen. Still, if this once strong, healthy, and vibrant young man were going to live; even more would have to be done. His kidney function continued to decline, landing Ky’are in the hospital in critical condition. Something radical and immediate needed to happen. In a search for living donors, it turned out that Curtisha, Ky’are’s mom, was a match. February of 2018 Curtisha Grant became a living donor and donated her kidney to her son, giving him a second chance at life.
“Without hesitation, as a mother, as a father, without hesitation we wanted to know what could we do to help, which is why our mission today is to encourage living organ donations. We have the power to save lives on the inside of us. We have two organs. So I didn’t think twice about giving my organ up to him [Ky’are]. We want to encourage people today to pray with their families. I couldn’t do this without my husband, and my daughter, and Ky’are participating in his own journey. So we had to form an alliance on the home front. We’re #TeamGrant,
but that’s not just a hashtag. It’s a posture. It’s a grace. It’s a commitment.”
The Grant family has formed a strong alliance on the home front in support of one another, but their interest and passion for this topic has now reached beyond a mother’s love and support of immediate family. Together, they have taken on the roles of kidney ambassadors and are advocating not only for more education and encouragement concerning living organ donations, but they advocate for kidney health in general.
“We want people to take care of their kidneys. We’re on a mission for you to be good to your kidney…[we want] to help people get educated and take care of their kidneys!”
Mother gives son life twice, but how do you keep an organ you can’t afford?
Cutisha worked twenty years in human resources and resigned to walk this journey with her child. Her husband, USMC military veteran, Frank Grant who served our country for more than 20 years has stood in support of his wife through the uncertain and even dismal days of this entire ordeal. For this husband and wife team, unifying was key; but with mother and son going through this experience, family, friends, and community support—spiritually, emotionally, and financially, have been an essential part of this family’s healing.
The burden of costs, beyond insurance coverage for outstanding medical bills, medication, and continued care over the next several months is insurmountable. The monthly medication needed for Ky’are alone is just over $9,400. While Curtisha’s organ was a match and the surgery was a success, Ky’are’s body naturally wants to fight the kidney because to his body, it’s foreign. The medicine necessary to prevent his body from attacking this “foreign object” and to keep him alive is, yes you read right, $9,400 per month. Tri-care covered all but $1,000 per month of his medication costs for the first 90 days. On the heels of that 90-day period came the waiting game with Medicare. In the meantime, the Grants were responsible for the pharmaceutical bill, as Medicare could take months to make a decision. If approved, Medicare would possibly cover half or even the majority of the cost of medicine for a total of 30 months (two and a half years). Ky’are’s parents didn’t want to leave their son’s continued care up to chance. They desired to provide a way to cover costs in between decisions on coverage and also make certain that even with coverage, at the end of it, Ky’are would be able to continue with a thriving future—not worried about funds for medication, and able to care for himself despite any limitations having kidney disease may present. For months, the family suffered in silence and sought to seek solutions quietly and privately until a family member decided that with all this family had given so freely of themselves to others for many years, they deserved the same level of support in return. While making their dilemma public was not Curtisha’s desire, she thought to herself, “How can you expect people to keep an organ they can’t afford?” From there, the idea to match in fundraising what the insurance company was to provide, was born.
The Grant family is known for their generous contributions and unconditional show of love toward others. So when they began reaching out to family, friends, and community leaders in an effort to organize the first ever Facebook Live Stream Kidney-thon, it made perfect sense that in no time, the teams gladly came together coast-to-coast. The event launched from Dallas, TX which operated as “headquarters,” then passed every hour for eleven hours to other participating cities such as: Arlington and Fort Worth, TX; San Diego and Los Angeles, CA; Charleston SC; Richmond, VA; and Jacksonville and Fort Myers, FL with visits in between with headquarters.
It was a spectacular event with live streams from Nephrologist Dr. Nilang Patel, and CNN Patient Advocate of the Year, Dialysis Nurse Robyn Jones.
Many supporters contributed to the day, but probably one of the most memorable contributions was that of the talk show and community leadership trio in Jacksonville, FL, PDT, comprised of radio and television personality Terrance Pickett, radio personality and socialite Gene Dot Com, comedian and radio personality Comedian A-Train who hosted a two-hour local drive complete with live entertainment, streamed campaign updates from headquarters, and special guest speakers such as City Council hopeful Brandon Byers, owner of The Cookbook Restaurant where the event was held.
Photo Credit: PDT Events
PDT drew in community support that nearly tripled their campaign site’s goals. Collectively, the Coast-to-Coast Kidney-thon raised 75% of the overall goal.
To learn more, view the Grant’s full story here:
To see the Coast-to-Coast Kidney-thon Facebook Live Streams, and to stay up-to-date on Ky’are’s progress, go to Key’s Kidney Grant-ing Miracles.
It’s been a long and sometimes scary road, but if you ask Ky’are how he feels about his progress, his answer is a simple joyous one…
My mood today!!! WHY?? Because I should have been dead, but God said not so…#secondchances…#keyskidney
Click the link if you would like to donate to Ky’are’s Second Chance at Life Campaign. You may also donate via Cash App. at $kyaregrant, or by calling 682-251-0655.
Photos courtesy of #TeamGrant unless otherwise stated.