Hodge family benefit

Organizer Edith Harris displays some of the auction items that will be available during a May 11 fundraising event to benefit James Hodge, a Tullahoma lung transplant recipient. The event, to be held at Lynchburg Elementary School, will start at 5 p.m., and will include an auction, door prizes and live music.

An event to benefit Tullahoma resident James Hodge, who suffered from pulmonary fibrosis prior to a March lung transplant, is set for Saturday, May 11, at Lynchburg Elementary School, 276 Mechanic St. North, in Lynchburg.

Funds raised from the event will help Hodge and his family relocate to Nashville to be near Vanderbilt Hospital for ongoing treatment and monitoring.

Edith Harris, one of the event organizers, encourages locals to attend.

The event will start at 5 p.m., and visitors will have a chance to enjoy music, bid on auction items and win door prizes.

Coleman March Ensemble and the Cavaliers Quartet will provide the music entertainment, which begins at 6 p.m., according to Harris.  

“We are going to have a silent auction, we’ll raffle items and we’ll have concessions,” Harris said. “Admission is free, but a love offering will be appreciated at the door.”


“Friends helping friends”

Hodge, 57, suffered from pulmonary fibrosis and was facing pessimistic prognosis. However, his life was saved thanks to an organ donation.

“On March 24, James and his wife, Kennia, received the call from Vanderbilt Hospital that a donor was available,” Harris said. “On March 25, James and Kennia traveled to Vanderbilt and James received his new lungs.

“Once James is released from the hospital, the family will live in Nashville in an apartment to be close to the hospital for therapy and monitoring.”

All proceeds from the event will benefit the Hodges, who will use the funds for their everyday needs while staying in Nashville, said Harris.

“James is working really hard to get into the rehab facility to be able to go home,” Harris said. “James was a truck driver. Then, he became disabled. Kennia works at the Tennessee Correction Academy in Tullahoma. She is now off work to be with James. They are just really good people, and they don’t have kids; so it’s just friends helping friends.”


Organ donation

Organ donation is essential, said Harris.

“Without the lungs James received on March 25, his prognosis was not good at all,” Harris said.

In order for Hodge to survive, Harris said, he had to have the transplant.

“It’s bittersweet, of course, because the organ donor family is going through the loss of their family member,” Harris said. “We keep them in our prayers, too. Their lives changed dramatically on March 24, when they got that call.”

Organ donation, which can be deceased donation or living donation, saves lives, said Harris.

The deceased donation process begins with individuals deciding if they want to donate organs to save people with end-stage organ disease.

Living donation is when an organ is donated from an individual in good health. Relatives, friends and individuals who wish to remain anonymous may serve as living donors.

According to tds.dcids.org, the Tennessee Donor Services website, one person can save up to eight lives through the donation of lungs, liver, heart, kidneys, pancreas and intestines.

“I had a nephew that passed a few years ago – he was 21,” Harris said. “He donated seven or eight organs and saved people’s lives.”

About 114,000 patients in the United States are waiting for a life-saving transplant, and another person is added to the list every 10 minutes, according to Donate Life America, a nonprofit leading the efforts to raise donor awareness.

There are currently 3,052 people waiting for an organ transplant at transplant centers in Tennessee, according to Anne Paschke with the United Network for Organ Sharing.

Paschke encouraged Tennesseans to register to become organ donors.

“Nationally, 58% are registered donors,” she said. “In Tennessee, it is 43%. It only takes a couple of minutes to register at www.donatelifetn.org.”

For more information about the benefit event, call Harris at 931-581-1220.

Elena Cawley may be reached via email at ecawley@tullahomanews.com.