NORMAN — A fundraiser will be held in Moore to assist a Norman resident who recently received a lifesaving organ transplant.
Eleven years ago, life for Sherrie Autry took a dramatic turn as she was hit with news of her illness.
In 2001, Autry was diagnosed after the birth of her third daughter with primary sclerosing cholangitis, a disease that caused her liver's bile ducts to swell and scar.
Autry was told by doctor's a liver transplant was vital to save her life and put on a transplant list in April 2012. On Feb. 8, Autry, 58, received the lifesaving liver transplant.
Debra Lewis, who has known Autry for more than 50 years, described how the illness impacted Autry.
The day before Autry was told she had a matching donor, her family and friends were discussing how to help Autry.
Lewis recalled how she thought Autry might die before the end of the month if she did not receive the transplant.
Autry's skin was yellow and her face was sunken in.
“She looked like she was on death's bed,” Lewis said.
The next day family and friends were relieved to hear she was going to get a new liver. Within days Autry looked better, Lewis said.
“Almost immediately after the transplant I felt better,” Autry said.
She is still recovering from the transplant.
“I'm still having some soreness and I'm still building my strength up,” Autry said.
While Autry's health insurance covered the cost of the transplant, she still has to pay for medical bills from follow-up care and medication she needs to keep her new liver healthy. Cost includes insurance co-pays for doctors' visits and medicine.
The average liver transplant costs $575,000, according to the National Foundation for Transplants, Autry will need a lifetime of follow-up care and daily anti-rejection medications. These medications are costly, and they're as important to her survival as the transplant itself, the foundation stated.
As a result, volunteers are holding a bowl-a-thon fundraiser from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, at AMF Bowling Center, 420 SW 6th St. in Moore.
Entry fee is $30 per bowler, and each participant will bowl three games. A silent auction also will be included in the event.
The fundraiser was organized in part by the National Foundation for Transplants (NFT), who Autry turned to for help with medical expenses.
According to its website, NFT is a nonprofit organization that helps patients raise funds to pay for transplant-related expenses.
Lewis also assisted with organizing the bowl-a-thon. She described how Autry bowled for more than 30 years: “We just knew that would be something we would do.” Organizers are hoping for 30 teams to participate with each team made up of two individuals.
Individual bowlers also are encouraged to register.
All funds raised will go toward Autry's transplant expenses.
Autry expressed gratitude for NFT, her friends and family who have supported her through her illness and continue to support her by helping to raise donations.
She also is grateful to the community and everyone who is coming to the fundraiser.
Autry and Lewis urged Oklahomans to become organ donors.
“Please consider giving the gift of life by organ transplant. Ultimately that's what saved Sherrie's life,” Lewis said.
For individuals who can't attend the fundraiser, but would still like to donate, tax-deductible donations can be made by mail or online by following these instructions:
In honor of Autry, individuals can send a contribution to the NFT Oklahoma Transplant Fund, 5350 Poplar Ave., Suite 430, Memphis, TN 38119. Please be sure to write “in honor of Sherrie Autry” on the memo line. Secure donations can be made online at www.transplants.org. Donors should click on “Find an NFT Patient” to locate Autry.