Sister Perfect Match for Transplant
BY MELANIE BUCK –
Back in April, Mena native Craig Ferguson visited his doctor due to cramps he was having in his lower back. The cramps were so bad that he was unable to sleep. The doctor began testing to find the source of the pain. Little did Ferguson know that the visit would be a life altering moment.
Ferguson has been relatively healthy his entire life, only suffering from common ailments, so it was a shocking moment when the doctor called him and said to get to the closest hospital, immediately. A friend drove Ferguson to his local hospital in Columbus, Nebraska. Upon arrival, the doctor informed him that his kidneys did not seem to be working. Due to the hospital in Columbus being a small facility, doctors sent Ferguson to Bryan Health, a learning hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska for more in-depth testing.
His parents, Travis and Pam Ferguson of Mena, were already on their way to be with their son when they got the call; Ferguson was in complete kidney failure. Doctors are still unsure why Ferguson’s kidneys have shut down and that is one of their goals, to find out why. DNA testing has been sent to labs to try and determine the cause. In the meantime, his kidneys are deteriorating and are only half the size they should be. He is now on regular dialysis treatments, called peritoneal dialysis. Some of those treatments are done on his own, at home, and take over 9 hours to complete.
His parents called his sister, Amy Ledbetter, and gave her the news. “Whenever I was flying there, I was in a Chicago airport, and I remember my mom calling and telling me that his kidneys had failed and that there was nothing that they could do and that he would have to have a transplant. I just remember knowing that it would be me, that I would do it. And the Lord just gave me complete peace about that,” stated Ledbetter.
On July 16, Ledbetter began her testing for the would-be donor. “On July 19, they called me and told me that I was a perfect match, ‘as perfect as it gets,’” recalled Ledbetter. She added, “I’m a perfect match but I haven’t finished all of my testing yet. I have to go back for my final CT scan, ultra-sound, and echocardiogram. I went to Hot Springs to do some testing in between. Their lab did the work and sent it to Nebraska. I also did a spot urine test at Mena Regional that was sent to Nebraska as well.”
Ledbetter’s final testing will be done in mid-November. Once that process is complete and Ferguson’s DNA tests come back, they are hopeful to get the green light for surgery. “We’ve been told that once everything has been given ‘a go’ that it will be 2-6 months before transplant surgery. It will be done at the transplant center in Omaha Nebraska. It’s an amazing place. It’s very friendly and the staff is wonderful,” stated Ledbetter.
Although Ferguson worries about his sister, he is thankful that she is willing to go through such a grueling process for him. “I appreciate her going through all this hassle, the testing and things. She’s driven to Omaha twice now. I worry about her but am thankful that we can do this together,” stated Ferguson.
To help with medical expenses, a benefit dinner and silent auction has been set for Saturday, October 11, at the Polk County Fairgrounds from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. In addition to the dinner and auction, chances are also being sold for an 8×12 Utility Shed. Those tickets can be purchased at Farmers’ Co-Op, Not Just Chicken, and Outback Barn, Inc., all in Mena. Richie Owens & Six Mile Creek will provide entertainment. For more information you can call Amy Ledbetter at The Outback Barn, 479-394-1200.
Ledbetter said, “I’m so grateful for all the friends that have prayed and been there with us through this. People from all over come up and say they’ve prayed for us. Even though Craig doesn’t live here anymore, his roots are here, as well as his friends and family.”
Ferguson would like everyone to know how thankful he is for his hometown. “Even though I’ve been gone since 1999, I still have family and friends there. I have a great support group in Nebraska but it feels really good to have the support of my hometown community. I’ve been getting phone calls, cards, and emails from people back home and I want to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers and for all who are helping with the benefit.”