In a video posted last week to YouTube, 8-year-old Shirley resident Karen Jackson and her brother, Cole, 5, can be seen making pleas on behalf of their grandma.
“Please help us get money, so my ‘Beba’ can get her kidney fixed,” says Cole, referring to his grandmother, Smithtown’s Claudia Bowers.
Bowers, 62, has been in renal failure since January 2013, and has been undergoing nine hours of kidney dialysis each week since last June. Next month, she’ll be getting a new kidney courtesy of her sister, Alyson Capone, but her insurance won’t cover the medications Bowers will need to help ensure her body doesn’t reject the donated organ.
To cover this gap, known as a “donut hole,” Bowers’ family has turned to the Internet, where they launched a crowdfunding campaign on her behalf through GiveForward.com. In less than a week, they’ve raised close to $3,000 toward their $5,000 goal.
“I would have never imagined that this fundraising campaign would have raised so much money in such a short time,” Bowers said. “I feel very loved and I am elated with the outpouring of support.”
Most of the donations, so far, have been coming from family, friends, and current and former Girl Scouts. Until her diagnosis forced her to retire early, Bowers was the director of camping for Girl Scouts of Suffolk County, a job she said she loved.
But for the past year-and-a-half, Bowers said her life has become consumed by doctors appointments, dialysis, tests and feeling sick.
“She went from this woman running around camp and with her grandkids to now, some days, she can’t even get out of bed,” said her daughter, Erica Jackson, who is Karen and Cole’s mom.
Bowers and her family are looking forward to the new lease on life her new kidney should give her.
“I’m eager to see my sister have a better quality of life,” said Capone, 54, who will fly up from her home in Daytona Beach, Florida for the surgery.
Capone said that after losing their sister, Linda, to ovarian cancer 13 years ago, she was grateful to have the ability to save Bowers. Doctors determined Capone’s kidney was a perfect match.
She added, “I already lost one sister and I’m not going to lose another if I can help it.”