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Looking for Livers
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Two Newton County residents are in need of liver transplants, and a local church is helping them out.

Grace Baptist Church is holding a fundraiser yard sale beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday for Bill Hardy and Ray Donald, both of whom have cirrhosis of the liver. The fundraiser is set to last until everything is sold. Items at the fundraiser include everything from furniture and clothes to TVs and computers.

"If someone has enough money, I'll sell them my business," joked Hardy, who owns Hardy's Floor Covering and Supplies.

Grace Baptist, the families' church, has stood in strong support of the organ transplant by offering the help it can in terms of finances and spirituality. The family is thankful for Pastor Phil Bone and his wife, Eva, who are letting them hold the fundraiser.

"They have never questioned or hesitated anything we do at the church for fundraising and are always the first to offer help and support," said Emily Schneider, Hardy's daughter.

The families of both men met because of jewelry. Schneider and Krystle Donald, Donald's wife, met at a Premier Designs Jewelry party.

Schneider met Krystle Donald, who began selling jewelry as a means of getting extra money for her husband's surgery, before her father developed cirrhosis of the liver. The women became closer, and then Hardy was diagnosed.

"Isn't God amazing?" Schneider asked in a testimonial she wrote about her father. "He knew what I would be dealing with and he put this special girl in my life for a reason."

Fundraising efforts have been ongoing from many different sources. The most recent fundraising effort was a doughnut sale that raised about $3,500.

"My children have been supporting me a lot in doing various fundraisers," Hardy said Thursday. Hardy has three children, Allison, Emily, and Josh - and six grandchildren.

He became aware of his disease in February after he went into the hospital for his gallbladder, at which point they determined that his liver was no longer functioning properly.

Donald found out about his disease in August 2009 through direct complications.

"It's a rude awakening when someone says you need a transplant," Donald said.

The cost of the surgery will be at least $400,000, and post-surgery medications - which could be necessary for the rest of their lives - could cost $3,500 per month.

In addition to the price, each of the men must wait for a liver that matches their bodies.

The liver will come through the United Network for Organ Sharing.

Donald has been on the waiting list for more than 500 days and Hardy is hoping to be officially on the list in the coming weeks.

Although the procedure is costly and time-consuming, the men are keeping their heads up and hoping for the best.

"It really makes you appreciate the other things in life," said Donald. "Nothing is really quite that bad anymore."