Sometimes you just have to tell it like it is. Especially when the situation is critical. Hunter Hess needs a new kidney.
The headlines for both of Hunter’s upcoming fundraisers are as clear as can be… ‘Kidney Donation Fundraiser for Hunter’. Even the website address is direct and to the point… ‘Huntersnewkidney.com’.
Local serial restauranteur Hunter Hess is one of over 100,000 people in the United States that are currently waiting for a kidney donor, nearly 3,000 of whom are in North Carolina. The wait time for a donor can be up to five years. According to the National Kidney Foundation, 12 people die each day waiting for their kidney transplant.
As an entrepreneur, Hess does not let overwhelming odds impact his spirit or his eagerness to get to work solving the problem.
“I saw pretty quickly that we needed to raise awareness about the need for kidney donors, not just for me but for many others,” explains Hess, “ so we very quickly created two November fundraisers.”
The optimal approach is to receive a live kidney donation, where a patient receives a donor kidney from a living friend, relative or stranger arranged in advance. The transplant is scheduled and is not an emergency response to a deceased donor. This shortens the wait time rather than queuing for a deceased donor, the recipient is healthier and the donor is selection is more controlled, resulting in better outcomes.
“Kidney disease causes more deaths than breast cancer or prostate cancer,” say Hess, “ We need to raise awareness and encourage more live donors.”
Sadly, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, in 2019 only 23% of transplanted kidneys in North Carolina came from Live Donors. Most of these Live Donors were blood relatives. Had a larger pool of live donors been available, perhaps more Live Donor transplants would be made and the wait for a donor shortened, resulting in fewer deaths.
Michele Hughes, with Women Encouraging Live Donation (WELD) says, “I think people would choose to save someone’s life who was on dialysis if they knew how awful dialysis was and if they knew giving a kidney would save a life. And the recovery is less than a month for the donor.”
Earlier this year, there were 27 people on the waiting list in Moore County, including Hess. One of those donors, Angela Gaskell, received her kidney transplant in September, on her birthday, using a deceased donor after five years on the transplant list.
“The person in need of an organ has to be their best advocate and make the transplant happen” explained Gaskell, “I am very proud of Hunter for putting himself and his story out there, giving many people an opportunity to give.”
Funds raised will be used to offset those costs not covered by insurance for both Hess and a donor, as well as paying for a donor’s lost wages during their recovery period.
The weekend of Kidney Donation Fundraisers for Hunter will kick-off on Friday November 22, at The Rooster’s Wife in Aberdeen, beginning with cocktails and a seafood dinner extravaganza prepared by Hunter Hess himself at 6 pm followed by the award-winning blue-eyed soul Billy Price Band concert at 7 pm.
Special guest Michele Hughes, local Women Encouraging Live Donation (WELD) ambassador for Donate Life NC will give a brief talk about the importance of live donation. Tickets are available at www.theroosterswife.org .
On Saturday November 23 at 12 pm, a Penn State vs. Ohio State Tailgate Party will be held at Filly & Colts at Little River Farm. Billy Price Band will return to perform after the football game at 4 pm. The Tailgate Party includes food, cash bar, concert and a raffle of 2 large screen TVs and $1000 cash.
Tickets may be purchased at Neville’s, The Clothes Horse, VFW, Drum and Quill, and online at www.huntersnewkidney.com .
Written by Sandhills Sentinel Contributor Lesley Berkshire Bradley/Photo by John Gessner.