In Georgia, a church community helped its pastor raise more than $10,000 for a heart transplant in a now-viral giving campaign.
Pastor Tony Fraley has served in his ministry for more than 40 years and has served as pastor of Vaughn Chapel Baptist Church in Milledgeville, Georgia, for the past 13 years. He is now looking to his community for help as he awaits heart transplant surgery.
Fraley had battled congestive heart failure for more than 20 years and managed his condition with a combination of medications until last year when his health took a turn for the worse.
Lisa Shinholster, an associate minister at Vaughn Chapel and Fraley’s business partner, said Fraley was experiencing additional symptoms by November that required him to be admitted into the hospital for a series of tests.
“They did everything from a genetic study, to a kidney analysis, to his heart, his lungs; they checked everything out to make sure that they knew what plan of action he needed to take,” Shinholster told the Union-Recorder.
Based on the test results, he had two options: get help from a left ventricular assist device or have heart transplant surgery.
Fraley decided he did not want to live the rest of his life connected to a device, so he opted for transplant surgery.
Even though Fraley has health insurance, the cost of Fraley’s treatment will be around $20,000 to $30,000 per year due to the number of immunosuppressive medications he has to take to keep his body from rejecting the transplant, the Macon Telegraph reported.
That is when Shinholster launched a GoFundMe page and worked with friends and faith communities to get the word out. The community also created a bank account for donations.
Checks and money orders to the account can be made to Tony E. Fraley Fundraiser, and donors should write: “Heart Transplant Fundraiser” in the check’s memo line. The checks can be sent to P.O. Box 555, Milledgeville, Georgia, 31059-0555.
With the $10,000 raised from the GoFundMe account and the bank account’s money, Shinholster said the community was able to secure Fraley a spot on Emory University’s transplant list.
Fraley said he was grateful for the support.
“This malfunction that has been placed on me, I really feel in my heart that it is for the glory and edification of God, and you have made it so easy by your act of kindness, your act of love, your act of concern for my well being,” Fraley said in a video posted to the GoFundMe page.
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