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About 200 buddies turn out to help girl awaiting kidney

December 07, 1996

By JULIE E. GREENE

Staff Writer

Lisa Jenkins was overwhelmed Saturday with the response from the community as an estimated 200 people attended a benefit dinner to raise funds for her 2-year-old daughter Brittany's medical bills.

"I don't know what to say ... thank you is not enough," Jenkins said at the Presbyterian Church of Hagerstown at 20 S. Prospect St. "You never know, until you're in this position, what the community will do."

Brittany Jenkins has been on the national emergency transplant list awaiting a kidney for about seven weeks, said her mother.

The little girl had to have her defective ovaries and diseased kidneys removed in the past year.

"We would very much like a kidney for Christmas. If she could talk, that's what she would ask for," said Lisa Jenkins.

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Brittany stopped talking when her first kidney was removed.

The Jenkins family also hopes to bring Brittany back to their home south of Hagerstown from Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore for Christmas, even if it requires having nurses at home, said Jenkins, who will return to her daughter's bedside today. She and her husband David take turns staying with Brittany.

In the last week or so Brittany has shown signs of getting depressed and angry about her situation, her mother said.

"She needs a break of some kind from that hospital," she said. "She's 2 years old. She can't be a normal 2-year-old in a hospital."

The family, including Brittany's sisters, Peggy, 15, Julena, 6, and Lisa, 4, are also anxious to have Brittany home for the Christmas holiday, Jenkins said.

"It's getting harder to hang in there. It's like why, why doesn't Brittany have a kidney?" Jenkins asked.

Brittany had Drash, a rare syndrome that affects various body systems, and suffered from congenital kidney disease. In early February, the Jenkins were told she had a tumor in one of her kidneys. The other kidney was cyst-filled.

In September, months after the surgery to have her kidneys and ovaries removed, Brittany developed life-threatening blood infections.

The infections are now under control with the aid of antibiotics and Brittany is awaiting a kidney donor, who could be an adult or child, Jenkins said.

The cost of Brittany's medical care has already exceeded the $250,000 lifetime benefits cap per family member provided by David Jenkins' insurance. The cost now exceeds $280,000.

Brittany must go on dialysis three times a week, costing $900 to $1,000 each time, her mother said.

Saturday's pork and sauerkraut dinner benefit raised an estimated $700 to $800 to help the family pay medical bills, said family friend Laura Eckard, who organized the benefit.

The dinner was sponsored by Presbyterian Church Sunday Night Live Teens and First Baptist Church Teens, she said.

Patricia Funk, 15, of Clear Spring, was one of the teenagers helping with the benefit. Her grandmother Sondra Smith, 55, brought her boyfriend Jacob Burcker, 62, to the dinner.

"We thought it'd be a good cause. We normally go out to dinner on Saturday night. What better place to put our money," said Smith, of Hagerstown.

Members of the St. John's United Church of Christ in Clear Spring also have helped the family by bringing meals to the home and paying the phone bill, Jenkins said.

Contributions to the Brittany M. Jenkins Fund may be dropped off in person or mailed to the Hagerstown offices of Bulldog Federal Credit Union, 580 North Ave. or 17555 York Road.

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