Over the course of a couple of weeks a couple hundred community members in and around Mount Angel have turned out to show support for John Kloft.
Many bought sky-blue T-shirts heralding John's Journey, an event orchestrated for and under the guidance of the Children's Organ Transplant Association (COTA). The fun-run fundraiser officially scheduled for Dec. 28 through Jan. 10 — John's 8th birthday — saw a lot of fitness activity in support of a youngster who is looking to return to good health.
By Jan. 8 the cause had raised nearly $84,000 of its $100,000 goal. John, a fourth-generation farm kid from Mount Angel and a second-grade student at Butte Creek Elementary School, is awaiting scheduling to receive a kidney from his mother, Patty Kloft.
Proprietors of Lonely Lane Farms just east of town, Mike and Patty Kloft discovered their son was experiencing pains in his side last May. They took him to family care physician Brianna Brooks in Silverton. First thinking John was suffering from appendicitis, tests were scheduled. When the results came back, Mike and Patty received news no parents want to hear.
"John was diagnosed with stage 4 chronic kidney disease. Basically, one of his kidneys isn't functioning at all and the other isn't functioning well. When you have kidney disease, your kidneys are on a downward trajectory, and the timing of a transplant really depends on how quickly your kidney function falls," Mike and Patty shared on a blog set up via COTA for John's Journey.
The Klofts learned that their only child would need a kidney transplant, perhaps as soon as in a few months, but certainly within the coming years. They also learned that more transplants will likely be needed down the road as the service period of transplanted organs normally range between 15 to 20 years.
"One thing we've learned is that kidney disease doesn't follow a straight path," Mike and Patty said.
John currently is a transplant candidate at Stanford University Medical Center, and recent developments provided optimism for him to receive a new kidney within the next four to eight weeks.
But a COTA media outreach spokeswoman, Evelyn Shoop, said complications from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic often interrupt medical plans, and there was a hiccup in the originally scheduled plans for Patty to donate a kidney to her son — hopefully, a temporary one.
Shoop said a social worker at Stanford had guided the Klofts to COTA, a national 501(c)3 charity dedicated to organizing and guiding communities in raising funds for transplant-related expenses.
While medical insurance often will take care of much of the initial procedural costs, other expenditures are not covered. Those can range from travel expenses, additional care-giving necessities and follow-up procedures.
COTA helps organize volunteers and fundraising activities that in turn help families. The charity's website notes: "Most (transplant) families are overwhelmed with all of the details. However, addressing the financial part of the transplant early will be to your benefit. You will be better able to get through the transplant process if you do not have to worry about finances."
Mike and Patty know that all too well.
"We're raising funds for COTA in honor of John because John's surgery and the donor's surgery (Patty) will happen together in California at Stanford. Insurance covers the biggest portion, but we will need to travel to Stanford multiple times before and after the surgery, and only travel costs for John are covered," they shared on the blog.
The Mount Angel family's needs are twofold.
"Because two members of our family will be having major surgery, we'll also be using funds to cover the costs of additional caregiving needed for our family. Funds will also be used to support any additional procedures John needs.
"We're so lucky to have the Children's Organ Transplant Association as a resource to help with this, because all funds raised will be tax-deductible for our donors and funds raised for COTA in honor of John will be able to be used for transplant-related expenses throughout his life."
Those participating in supporting the Klofts COTA event do so by purchasing T-shirts and John's Journey Fun Run tickets, walking and running in their areas, sending in family photos, and taking part in a hand-drawn coloring project.
Shoop noted that COTA has received photos sent in from families and supporters, not only in the Mount Angel area, but throughout the Willamette Valley, wearing John's Journey blue shirts, along with considerable thank-you art and coloring pages by family and friends.
"Major medical procedures like these surgeries have a big impact on any family, especially with a family-run, small business," Shoop said. "The Klofts are incredibly grateful for the support and generosity of their entire extended community."
The Klofts echoed that in their blog.
"This is a journey we didn't expect to be on. Now that we are here, we can't express how grateful we are that you are here with us. "
The Children's Organ Transplant Association (COTA) is a national 501(c)3 charity dedicated to organizing and guiding communities in raising funds for transplant-related expenses. Volunteers are raising money for COTA in honor of transplant patients like John Kloft.
Learn more by visiting: cota.org
The John's Journey Fun Run is a COTA fundraising activity in honor of Mike and Patty Kloft's only child, John. The activities included fun runs and coloring activities that raised nearly $84,000 of its $100,000 goal by Jan. 8.
Learn more by visiting: cota.org/campaigns/COTAforJohnsJourney.
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