By Jessica Isaacs | firstname.lastname@example.org
Friends and family in the community are stepping up to support 30-year-old Ryan “Possum” Mullis, a Watauga native who is in desperate need of a kidney transplant.
Join them in raising funds for his medical bills at a benefit singing and silent auction set for Saturday, May 7 and Proffit’s Grove Baptist Church in Todd.
Born and raised in the High Country, Mullis now lives in Monroe, North Carolina, where he’s closer to the medical facilities he needs. He was born with Nephropathic Cystinosis, an inherited disorder that leads to widespread tissue and organ damage. He also lives with Type 1 diabetes.
Mullis had his first kidney transplant at age 14 and received the donated organ from his mother, Lisa Kisiah. Today, he’s in the final stages of renal failure and is desperate need of another new one.
He’s been receiving dialysis nearly every other day since November, and is now out of work thanks to the consistent need for treatment. Medical bills are stacking up, and his family, friends and neighbors are hoping to see a big show of support at the upcoming event.
“He’s been on dialysis for so long that he’s gone through his savings and everything. He has insurance, but he still has to pay a lot,” said Brent Presnell, a childhood friend who’s organizing the fundraiser. “Back in November, his kidney was functioning at 11 percent. Dialysis is what’s keeping him alive — that’s six hours a day, three days a week.”
Hope for “Possum”
Alysia McDonald, Kisiah’s co-worker at Appalachian State University and now a family friend, is currently undergoing medical testing. If she’s a match, she plans to donate a kidney to Mullis later this summer.
“I felt led by God to fill out the paperwork and begin the testing process before I ever met Ryan. After meeting him, I knew that this is something I should do,” said McDonald. “He would do anything for anyone, even without knowing them. He has a big heart.”
Lab work has been completed and the testing process is underway as the folks following his journey pray McDonald will be a match for Mullis.
He’s also on kidney and pancreas transplant lists with Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, Duke University Hospital in Durham and Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.
A GoFundMe account has been created to help with his medical expenses, and it’s raised an impressive $3,100 in less than 20 days. That’s a lot of money, but there’s still a long way to go as the bills pile up and Mullis prepares for the colossal deductibles he’ll have to meet before receiving a transplant.
“Every day is a battle for Possum. We take things in life for granted, like our health and going to work every day,” Presnell said. “If I can help raise enough money to let him keep his independence, keep him at home and keep him in good spirits, I’m gonna do it.
“We have always been like brothers. It could be any one of us going through this hard time — our brothers, our sons, our daughters. He’s a local and our community needs to get together and support him. He would do it for anybody else — Ryan’s got a heart of gold.”
Mullis said he’s grateful for the show of support he’s receiving from friends old and new as his journey continues.
“I have some really good friends,” he said. “I am so blessed to have friends like them.”
Fundraising coordinators are still very much in need of performers interested in singing at the event, as well as donations from local folks and businesses for auction items.
The event will begin at 5 p.m. on May 7 at Proffit’s Grove on Meat Camp Road.
If you’d like to perform or donate items to the auction, contact Presnell at 828-263-7855 or email@example.com.
For monetary donations, check out the GoFundMe page.
Check out the event on Facebook for more details, to find out who’s playing and to see what’s up for grabs at the auction.
“Thank you so much for wanting to help me,” Mullis said to folks interested in attending the singing and auction. “I am truly blessed for y’all wanting to come out and donate to the fundraiser.”