The music was inspirational. Most was serious, some was light hearted but it was all for the common goal of raising funds for a teacher in need at Pratt Community College.
Barrett Smith, PCC agriculture instructor, needs a new kidney and is on the transplant list. To help raise funds to cover some of the expenses, the PCC Performing Arts Department and the PCC Farm Bureau hosted a “Battling For Barrett” concert on May 7 at the Front Porch. The PCC Encore group along with Rev. Scott Powell and violinist Tammy Thimesch presented an evening of inspiring music to raise money funds for Smith. A silent auction with donated items also helped with fund raising efforts.
Encore members all wore “Barrett’s Gang” t-shirts with a message on the back encouraging people to ask them how to become an O positive kidney donor.
Smith has igA nephropathy, a kidney disease caused when immunoglobulin A, an antibody, lodges in the kidneys. This causes inflammation the may hamper a kidneys ability to filter wastes from blood, according to www.mayoclinic.org.
Smith has O positive blood, the most common type and needs a kidney from an O positive donor. While O positive is the most common blood type, that means it also has the highest demand for O positive kidney transplants, Smith said.
“O positive kidneys are hard to find,” Smith said.
Smith has applied to the Mayo Clinic for a living donor. Smith has twin siblings that are a match but because of other medical issues, they are not eligible to donate a kidney.
The typical wait time on the donation list is two to three years. Smith got on the list in December 2017.
An early symptom of the problem is uncontrolled blood pressure, usually detected in a person’s late 20s or early 30s and that’s what happened with Smith. He started having high blood pressure in 2014. Blood work revealed the problem and Smith is being treated at the Mayo Clinic. He will travel to the clinic this summer for another evaluation but no specific date has been set for that evaluation.
If someone wants to be a donor, they have to go through the best physical of their life. Everything has to be just right so the donor won’t have problems from the donation, Smith said.
Since Smith’s kidneys aren’t working properly, he is taking kidney dialysis, a treatment that removes  waste material, salt and extra water to precent their build up in the body. It also helps control blood pressure, according to www.kidney.org.  
Dialysis is very effective and can help keep a patient alive for 20 years and longer, Smith said.
Kidney transplants are expensive. For transplants not covered by insurance, its typically up to $260,000 or more for pre-screening, donor matching, surgery, post surgical care and the first six months of drugs. Anti-rejection drugs cost about $17,000 a year, according to health.costhelper.com.
But in Smith’s case, his Blue Cross Blue Shield will help cover the cost including the cost of the donor’s tests and for their surgery.
Smith said he was very grateful for all the support at the concert and especially from the college that has worked with him during his battle. He said their support has helped his mental attitude.
Smith may be contacted by email at barretts@prattcc.edu.