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Posted: July 17, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Golfing for Laurie

Friends and contributors host golf benefit for Ga. resident in need of heart transplant

More than six months of fundraising efforts by donors, including Covington residents, will come to a head this Saturday at the Golfing for Laurie golf tournament at Ashton Hills.

Cumming resident Laurie Gowen is in need of a heart transplant and anti-rejection medication for after the transplant.
But in order to qualify for the transplant, explained friend John Keck, Laurie is required to demonstrate commitment to the surgery and transplant by raising money.

In January 2014, Keck, along with his wife Susie and Gowen’s family members, began researching how to put a charity drive together. They compiled lists of supporters from Georgia and surrounding states and sent a four-page flyer about the golf tournament.

With perseverance, they were able to raise $10,000 from donors in the community, state and states along the East coast. And the golf tournament, said Keck, will contribute an additional minimum of $20,000 to Gowen’s anti-rejection medication.
Within the first year, sometimes longer, a heart transplant has the most financial impact for families. The cost after transplant can be upwards of $1000 per month for the anti-rejection medication Laurie must take.

“The tournament is a vehicle that helps us promote the cause,” Keck said. “Many don’t even play golf.”

All the money raised will be deposited with the Georgia Transplant Foundation in Laurie’s name and the foundation will match all contributions up to $10,000.

In August 2002, the Gowens – Laurie, David and Julia — welcomed Grant into the family. But after the delivery, an emergency room visit revealed that Laurie had developed pregnancy-induced cardiomyopathy.

Since 2002, Laurie has been treated medicinally for the condition. But in 2009, Laurie’s condition worsened as her ailing heart struggled to keep up with her daily activities. Ultimately, Laurie received an LVAD (Left Ventricular Assist Device) that was placed internally in February 2010 after she almost died.

“Her bag is actually an LVAD hooked into her heart through an opening in her body, and that is what makes her heart beat,” Keck said. “She has to wear it 24/7 to stay alive.”

Laurie was placed on the heart transplant list in June 2010. After several blood transfusions, surgeries and pregnancies, her body developed a high level of antibodies. As they slowly decrease, she hopes that she will be the recipient of a new heart.

“It’s been very gratifying for Laurie to see she has close friends like us willing to help out with tremendous time and effort, and people she doesn’t even know willing to contribute out of simply caring,” Keck said.

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