Friends rally to help Howell mom get lung transplant

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

Woodhaven — Michele Scott was renewing her driver’s license at a Michigan Secretary of State office when she signed up to be an organ donor so she could help someone else if she ever had an unexpected death.

Years later, Scott needs the altruism of someone like herself since she needs a double lung transplant to live. The 57-year-old Howell woman has a progressive, incurable lung disorder that followed two autoimmune diseases and a carpel tunnel surgery in 2010. A mother of two children who’s been married 39 years, Scott went from working a full-time job filled with family and travel to staying at her home in Howell with an oxygen tank, waiting for a set of lungs to restore her health again.

While she waits, Scott is in the midst of an existential experience as she witnesses an outpouring of love from family, friends and even strangers. All are rallying to raise funds for the ten percent of the $800,000 lung transplant not covered by insurance and the $1,000-a-month, out-of-pocket costs of anti-rejection drugs she will have to take for the rest of her life.

Four fundraisers have been held since early this summer, including a garage sale on Saturday at her nephew’s Woodhaven home that included generous donations by many. So far, the family has raised about half of their fundraising goal of $35,000.

“Most people don’t ever find out how they have touched others people’s lives,” said Scott, her voice cracking as she reflects on those who have helped. “I have had that, with all the outpouring of donations and support and love. It makes you want to go on. It helps you with the fight.”

Brady Pinkowski, right, 10, of Woodhaven, looks for items of interest at a garage sale in Woodhaven.

It’s one of the unexpected joys that have come out of this ordeal, said Scott’s son, Ryan.

“She feels really strong and loved,” said Ryan Scott, 35, of Grand Rapids. “When you go to day to day, you don’t think about it. But when something happens, it’s amazing how people come together to rally around a cause.”

There are 3,500 people waiting for an organ transplant in Michigan, including 95 patients needing lungs, according to Gift of Life Michigan, the state's organ procurement organization.

In spite of all the positives that have happened in the aftermath of Michele Scott’s lung disease, she is struggling with the grueling day-to-day challenges, and needs lungs soon along with funding to support a transplant. She’s on the waiting list, not sure when they will come, if ever.

Ryan Scott, right, greets people at the garage sale to benefit his mother Michele Scott of Howell who needs a double-lung transplant to survive.

“She’s been suffering,” said Rockwood resident Bob Post, Scott’s nephew. “It’s sad because she’s so young. She was so full of life. It’s hard to see her weaken over time. But it’s also inspiring because she still keeps going on.”

So the work continues with Scott’s family spreading the word about fundraising and the importance of organ donation.

As for Scott, she’s staying focused.

“I choose to believe it’s going to happen,” she said. “It keeps me going.”

Want to help with the costs of a lung transplant and anti-rejection drugs for Michele Scott?

A bowling fundraiser will be held from 3-5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 3, at Super Bowl, 45100 Ford, Canton.

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