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Country concert to help raise funds for kidney donor clinic

September 14, 2009|By JULIE E. GREENE

FALLING WATERS, W.Va. - It's not surprising that Lee Adams has, for the second time, organized a concert of nationally known country music singers to raise money for a kidney donor clinic, said Dr. Matthew Cooper.

Adams saw the need for such a clinic firsthand - she's a kidney donor.

"People that come forward to donate an organ are just the kind of people who at the same time would find ways to help others," Cooper said.

Cooper is associate professor of surgery and director of the kidney transplant program at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.

Adams, 44, of Falling Waters, was one of Cooper's patients in July 2007 when she donated a kidney to her sister Kelly's husband. She's also vice president of national promotion for Broken Bow Records, which is based in Nashville, Tenn.

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"She's got a heart of gold," said David Hornby, 57, of Taneytown, Md., who received Adams' healthy kidney.

Like Hornby, she had a team of specialists caring for her before and during the transplant surgery. Then she received two weeks of follow-up care in Baltimore before being told she could continue her recovery with her regular doctor, Adams said.

For a kidney donor center like the University of Maryland Medical Center, it is mandatory to follow up with donors at six months, one year and two years, but that doesn't mean the donor has to be seen at the medical center, Cooper said. Donors could get checked by their primary care doctors and have the information relayed to the medical center.

Adams said she was unsettled by not seeing the team of medical center specialists, who knew exactly what aspects of her health to check on.

"What do you mean we're done? I have one kidney left," Adams recalled thinking.

Insurance often doesn't cover follow-up care for the donor after six months, Cooper said. So he proposed the development of a Living Donor Follow-up Clinic at the medical center in Baltimore. The clinic, which opened last year, conducts follow-up care with donors and cover donors' cost for that care.

When Adams heard Cooper was interested in starting a Living Donor Follow-up Clinic, she got involved by organizing a fundraising concert.

Lee asked friends in the country music business to perform. The first concert, at Harmony United Methodist Church in August 2008, featured Megan Mullins and Crossin Dixon. The artists donated their time, and Adams took care of their flights, accommodations and transportation.

That concert, along with a silent auction of autographed country music memorabilia, attracted about 200 people and raised $5,000, Adams said.

Proceeds went to cover donors' costs for a clinic visit, Cooper said. The clinic has seen more than 100 donors since opening in July 2008.

This year's concert will feature country singers Brian McComas, Dean Brody and Aaron Benward at Harmony UMC on Sept. 17.

Cooper said Adams' fundraising work is greatly appreciated.

"It's above and beyond the call of duty," he said.

For Adams, it's a natural merger of two interests.

Adams the record promoter

Adams, who often visited her parent's Fayetteville, Pa., cabin as a child, got into the music business out of a love for Willie Nelson's music and a desire to meet the singer.

After studying radio and TV programming at Shippensburg University, she got a job in 1984 as a DJ for country station WCHA in Chambersburg, Pa.

Her career took her to country station 102.3 in Carlisle, Pa., where she continued to develop a rapport with record industry officials. She landed a job with Decca Records in 1995 and another with Atlantic Records in 1999. She's been with Broken Bow Records since 2001.

Her clients include Jason Aldean, whose "Big Green Tractor" hit No. 1 on Billboard's country chart in August and was still No. 1 last week.

Adams said she likes seeing fans "get excited about the music, for it to be meaningful to them." At an airport recently, she noticed someone had a cell phone's ringtone set to one of Aldean's songs.

As a record promoter, her job duties include calling radio stations to get them to play her clients' music and accompanying her clients during on-air interviews for radio stations.

She commutes to Nashville one week a month, but because much of her work entails phone calls she often is found in her downstairs office at her Falling Waters home. The walls feature framed notices of clients' songs reaching milestones such as gold or platinum records. One, for Lee Ann Womack's self-titled album, includes a personal thank-you note from the singer. There are also pictures of Adams with her family and with Tim McGraw and Garth Brooks.

Adams the kidney donor

When Adams learned her brother-in-law, Hornby, was in need of a kidney transplant, she was one of several family members who volunteered to be tested to see if she was a match.

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