Thursday, August 05, 2010

Fundraiser to benefit man with broken heart

I'm always pleased to promote and support fundraisers for transplant patients. The expenses not covered by insurance can place a tremendous emotional and financial burden on patients and it's been my experience that the National Foundation for Transplants (NFT) mentioned in this article does an excellent job with fundraising and currently is assisting around 1,000 patients.

Great Falls Tribune, Great Falls, Montana

Joe Erickson knows how it feels to have a broken heart.

In 2005, Erickson, 52, was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and cardiomyopathy.

He is now awaiting a heart transplant, which doctors say is essential to his survival.

The surgery costs approximately $775,000. Even with health insurance, Erickson faces significant medical expenses related to his transplant. For the rest of his life, he will need follow-up care and daily anti-rejection medications. The cost of post-transplant medications can range from $2,000 to $5,000 per month.

Because of a neck and spinal injury, Erickson can no longer work as an auto body technician, adding to his financial strain. Erickson recently relocated more than 350 miles from his home in Montana to Spokane, to be closer to his transplant center, incurring significant travel expenses.

Erickson has turned to the National Foundation for Transplants for assistance. NFT is a nonprofit organization based in Memphis, Tenn., that helps patients raise funds to pay for transplant-related expenses.

To help with expenses, volunteers are holding a car smash tonight from 5 to 7 p.m. during Alive@5 in Gibson Park. Tickets are $1 per swing of a sledge hammer at the car, or six smashes for $5.

The car was donated by Ralph Ward & Sons Auto Parts, Inc.

Last year, Erickson received a HeartMate II — an implanted device that will act as a mechanical heart until he receives his transplant.

An avid outdoorsman, Erickson loves to camp, fish and hike, but can no longer enjoy those activities because of his health. He looks forward to receiving his transplant so he can resume a normal life and once again train pet therapy dogs, a volunteer activity he finds very rewarding.

For more information on the fundraiser, contact Jacque at 406-899-1102 or

To make a tax-deductible donation in honor of Erickson, send a contribution to the NFT Montana Heart Fund, 5350 Poplar Ave., Suite 430, Memphis, TN 38119, and be sure to write "in honor of Joe Erickson" on the memo line. Secure donations also can be made online at National Foundation for Transplants.

Donors should click on Patients We Help" to locate Erickson.

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