Fundraiser to help with expenses

Sea Bright, N.J.- Arnold Graves knows exactly how it feels to have a broken heart. He recently received a lifesaving heart transplant and is grateful to be alive. The costs are overwhelming, so friends and family are planning a fundraiser to help with his expenses.

Graves, 59, went to the hospital in 1998 after experiencing shortness of breath and fatigue. Tests revealed he was suffering from familial idiopathic cardiomyopathy, a disease that has also afflicted his brothers. Doctors said a heart transplant was critical to his survival, and he was on the waiting list for a year before he received his new heart in April.

His older brother, Dave, was diagnosed at age 45 and received a heart transplant in 2003. His younger brother, Wayne, was diagnosed at age 47 and will eventually need a heart transplant. His oldest brother, John, passed away at the age of 45, and doctors believe his death may have been related to the same heart condition.

Although he experienced health issues for 13 years, Graves was able to live a somewhat normal life until his health began to worsen three years ago. He has encountered some complications since his transplant but is thankful to have a second chance at life. Graves has a strong support system, including his significant other of 20 years, Roe, and their four adult children and daughter-in-law.
A heart transplant costs approximately $775,000. Even with health insurance, Graves 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, and they are as critical to his survival as the transplant itself.
Because of his declining health, Graves was forced to leave his job in construction, adding to his financial strain.
To help alleviate some of these financial burdens, Graves turned to the National Foundation for Transplants (NFT) for assistance. NFT is a nonprofit organization based in Memphis, Tenn. that helps patients raise funds to pay for transplant-related expenses.

"Of course we're thrilled Arnold received his transplant," said Claire Prince, NFT fundraising consultant, "but that's just the first hurdle. He will require a lifetime of expensive medications to make sure his new heart remains healthy, and many people don't realize just how costly this can be. At NFT, we're working to help Arnold overcome these financial obstacles so he can focus on his new life without worrying about his finances."

Volunteers are planning a beach bash fundraiser, Saturday, Sept. 10 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Donovan's Reef, 1171 Ocean Ave. in Sea Bright. Admission is $50 per person in advance and $60 at the door and includes lunch, musical entertainment, volleyball and an open bar. Representatives from Donate Life America will provide information about organ donation. Advance sales are preferred, but individuals can pay at the door.

For tickets or more information, please contact Heather Graves at 732-713-5311 or hgravesncbtmb@aol.com<

To make a tax-deductible donation in honor of Graves, please send a contribution to the NFT New Jersey Transplant Fund, 5350 Poplar Ave., Suite 430, Memphis, TN 38119. Please be sure to write "in honor of Arnold Graves" on the memo line. Secure donations also can be made online at www.transplants.org<http://www.transplants.org>. Donors should click on "Patients We Help" to locate Graves.