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‘Give a Life’ jam to help St. Cloud woman raise funds for transplant

Posted on Thursday, December 31, 2015 at 1:20 pm

By Charlie Reed
For the News-Gazette
Jenny McStoots was diagnosed with kidney disease in high school.
She was in her 20s when she got a kidney transplant in 2000, only to have the new organ removed four days later because of problems during the surgery.
But after 17 years on dialysis, McStoots is preparing for another transplant through Shands Hospital with assistance from HelpHOPELive. The 43-year-old St. Cloud mother said it could happen as early as next year. The transplant process is complicated and requires dozens of medical clearances and a range of psychological, financial and support requirements.
HelpHOPELive assists people with catastrophic injury or illness cover uninsured healthcare costs through community fundraising. The nonprofit was founded more than 30 year ago when insurance companies were reluctant to cover costs related to transplants, then viewed as experimental.
And like the thousands of communities that have contributed to HelpHOPELive over the years, St. Cloud and Central Florida have come through in the name of helping a neighbor.
On Jan. 9, Donna’s Hideout is hosting the Give a Life Jam to raise money for McStoots’ surgery.
Entertainment includes a performance by Orlando radio personality and musician Jeff Howell, a silent auction, door prizes, raffles, food and more. Prizes include local artwork and donations from Armadillo Reds Tattoo, Grey Goose and Royal St. Cloud Golf Links
To help make a transplant a viable option, McStoots faces several major expenses, including co-pays, travel to the hospital, temporary relocation and a lifetime of pricey anti-rejection medications. All proceeds from the Give a Life Jam will help cover these and other uninsured expenses.
McStoots has helped collect some of the give-aways for the event. She is grateful but not surprised by the outpouring of support.
“I’ve always known this, but it’s still so amazing see how generous and thoughtful and kind the people of this town are,” she said.
McStoots’ failed transplant in 2000 left her needing weekly dialysis treatment. It’s a procedure that cleanses the blood for people whose kidneys cannot. Dialysis treatments can take up to four hours, and typically is required of kidney patients several times per week in order to live.
McStoots undergoes dialysis for two hours and 45 minutes, three times a week at a clinic in St. Cloud. While detoxifying the blood, dialysis often depletes patients of helpful nutrients, including calcium in McStoots’ case. She fell to the ground three years ago, breaking both her legs because of her frail bones.
Born and raised in St. Cloud, McStoots spent some of her youth in Holopaw. Diagnosed with  membranous nephropathy her junior year at St. Cloud High, she had to drop out because of her declining health.
But McStoots proved a fighter. She not only has endured kidney disease while raising her daughter, now 24, but she also went back to get her GED in 2004.
“You have to stay positive, it’s the only way to go,” McStoots said. “It’s gotten me through a lot of days.”
Now engaged, she said she’s been doing “really well” the past five years and is hopeful new transplant laws will help move her up the list quickly considering her years of dialysis.
“It’s easy to get depressed sometimes,” she said. “But you gotta have hope.”
If you go:
What: Give a Life Jam
When: Jan. 9 at 11 a.m.
Where: Donna’s Hideout, 10th Street and New York Avenue,  St. Cloud
Why: HelpHOPELive kidney transplant fundraiser
Can’t make it to the Give a Life Jam? Donations can be made to a fundraising campaign in honor of Jenny at or by calling 800-642-8399. Checks can also be mailed “in honor of Jenny McStoots” to HelpHOPELive: 2 Radnor Corporate Center., Suite 100, 100 Matsonford Road, Radnor, PA. 19087. Donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law, and all funds raised will be used to offset Jenny’s medical expenses via HelpHOPELive’s Southeast Kidney Transplant Fund, according to the nonprofit organization’s press release.