Ronnie Harrison was admitted late in the afternoon of April 3 to a local hospital for COVID-19 and pneumonia; eight months later, he is in a new fight. He needs a new liver.

It all started when Ronnie and his mother Dorothy were taken to Piedmont Hospital in Columbus at the recommendation of Ronnie’s local doctor, after a week of mild headaches and chills.

Ronnie’s father Madison and his sister Kelly sat in lawn chairs outside the hospital, passing time by speaking with other concerned friends and family of admitted patients.

Around 7:30 p.m., a doctor came outside to inform the Harrisons that Dorothy would be out in a couple of days. Ronnie, an asthmatic, would be kept longer due to the severity of the pneumonia.

Ronnie tested positive for COVID-19 the next day.

“I honestly didn’t know what to say,” Kelly said. “It became really real that wasn’t going to be a good thing.”

Waiting all summer

Madison, Kelly and Ronnie’s brother Bernard all subsequently tested negative for COVID-19. The family practiced safety measures while learning more about Ronnie’s situation.

The Harrisons are from Salem, and have minimal access to broadband. Kelly says Ronnie’s medical staff will call to give updates, but the call often does not go through.

Improvement was slow. Ronnie stayed 120 days in the ICU into the summer, Kelly says. He was unable to work and was not offered physical therapy after his hospitalization. A friend, however, was able to advocate for 10 days of inpatient rehab.

Following his hospitalization, Ronnie continued to see extreme changes in his blood cell levels and near constant fatigue. His family were his caretakers, helping him go about his daily life.

“We all have pitched in as best we can,” Kelly said. “We just really want to see him better.”

Transplant

Ronnie needs a liver transplant due to his recent health issues. He is very vulnerable due to his frequent visits in and out of the hospital, Kelly says.

Madison retired in order to assist with doctor’s appointments and emergency room trips, leaving the family without health insurance and further hardening the path to a transplant or health care. A liver transplant will require transportation to a larger hospital that performs transplants, such as the University of Birmingham Medical Center.

As of now, Ronnie is still at Piedmont Columbus Hospital. Madison, the lone visitor allowed to see Ronnie, regularly makes the A 30-minute drive from Salem.

“We continue to pray and pray and pray,” Kelly said. “Ronnie needs this transplant desperately.”

Community raises awareness

After learning about the Harrison family through their social work internship at the Opelika Sportsplex – Madison and Dorothy Harrison are members – Auburn University students Zoey Davis, Jordan Glenn and Shay Troutman began to organize fundraisers for the transplant.

“Valerie, our intern coordinator, had told us that Dorothy had been in the hospital for a long time with COVID, and that her son had, too, and so Jordan and I said okay, what can we do?” Davis said.

Under the hashtag #Liver4Ronnie, A GoFundMe page set up has raised more than $9,500. Additional donations have been hand delivered or by mail to the Opelika Sportsplex, and local businesses are raising awareness in large part to the intern’s willingness to get the word out.

In early November, the trio went door-to-door knocking in Auburn, Opelika and surrounding communities to raise money. Two local businesses, the Irritable Bao in downtown Auburn and Niffer’s Place, have been instrumental in promoting the fundraiser, Davis says.

“We wanted to raise financial support because Ronnie is uninsured, and his family just doesn’t have the finances to support his medical care,” Davis said. “We wanted to raise money, however much we can, with a GoFundMe and other creative ways to help out,” Davis said.

Last week, 100% of all cash tips at The Irritable Bao last week were given to the Harrison family, and a guest bartending event at Niffers raised around $1,500, according to Davis.

“Ronnie needs our help,” Whitley Dykes, owner of The Irritable Bao, said. “He is in desperate need of a liver transplant and is suffering from major complications with COVID-19. Please consider giving finically to help alleviate the burden on his family, and please join this community in praying that his every need be met.”

For those who seek to help in a unique way, the hashtag challenge #RideforRonnie has been created. To honor Ronnie’s 42nd birthday on Nov. 27, supporters can ride, walk, run or bike 4.2 miles and donate $5 dollars when the mileage has been completed.

So far, over $15,000 dollars have been donated for Ronnie’s liver transplant. Word of mouth and personal social media accounts on Instagram and Facebook are the fundraiser’s biggest tools, Davis says, for the worthy cause.

“We’ve gotten to know his family and his parents really well, and they’re just the most incredibly kind and gracious and compassionate, compassionate people I’ve ever met in my life,” Davis said. “They just love people very well and so we wanted to love them, as well as we could, in return.

Davis, a graduating senior in social work from Huntsville, says this is one of the reasons why she is pursuing social work.

Last week, 100% of all cash tips at The Irritable Bao last week were given to the Harrison family, and a guest bartending event at Niffers raised around $1,500, according to Davis.

“Ronnie needs our help,” Whitley Dykes, owner of The Irritable Bao, said. “He is in desperate need of a liver transplant and is suffering from major complications with COVID-19. Please consider giving finically to help alleviate the burden on his family, and please join this community in praying that his every need be met.”

For those who seek to help in a unique way, the hashtag challenge #RideforRonnie has been created. To honor Ronnie’s 42nd birthday on Nov. 27, supporters can ride, walk, run or bike 4.2 miles and donate $5 dollars when the mileage has been completed.

So far, over $15,000 dollars have been donated for Ronnie’s liver transplant. Word of mouth and personal social media accounts on Instagram and Facebook are the fundraiser’s biggest tools, Davis says, for the worthy cause.

“We’ve gotten to know his family and his parents really well, and they’re just the most incredibly kind and gracious and compassionate, compassionate people I’ve ever met in my life,” Davis said. “They just love people very well and so we wanted to love them, as well as we could, in return.

Davis, a graduating senior in social work from Huntsville, says this is one of the reasons why she is pursuing social work.

“Being seniors in college about to go out into the real world, it’s been really cool as this is my last undergrad grad experience to be able to do like hands on things to help tangibly like fight for my clients and advocate for clients,” Davis said. “It’s been super impactful; they’re the most deserving people and they are so humble and kind.”

Fundraising efforts are ongoing, and donations can be made through the GoFundMe page, here.

Transplant News Sharing // “Liver Transplants” – Google News from Source oanow.com

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