A cry for help: Suffolk woman’s son needs kidney transplant

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 12, 2005

On Sunday, Brenda Pitt’s three sons called to wish her a happy Mother’s Day. But what would make it the happiest of all would be a gift for one of them.

When he was 15, Pitt’s son Brandon Barnes contracted a virus, one that, despite a multitude of tests and medications, was never identified.

&uot;When I took him to the emergency room, they would just take him right in,&uot; Pitt said from her Suffolk home. &uot;They got to know him.&uot;

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The virus, and the high blood pressure that runs in Barnes’ family, eventually destroyed his kidneys. At 21, he was put on dialysis. Three times a week, he has to have the treatment near his Clarkston, Ga. home. Unable to work and support his son and daughter, he’s on Medicaid.

&uot;I sometimes don’t know why he’s still here except for God,&uot; Pitt said in her mother Betty Whitney’s Halifax Street home. &uot;He’s made it through prayers.&uot;

For years, Barnes struggled with the decision of whether to ask for a kidney transplant. Then, when he came home to visit Pitt last Christmas, he told her that he’d gone through the tests to get on the transplant list.

&uot;He got a letter in January saying that he was on the list,&uot; said Pitt, who along with the rest of both families is unable to donate an organ based on previous illnesses, high blood pressure and/or the wrong blood type. &uot;Hopefully in our campaigning, there may be a person who can give him one,&uot; she said.

Barnes’ donator must have type A or O blood, be at least 18, and not have diabetes. But even after receiving a transplant, Barnes’ fight will be far from over; he’ll have to take medications for the rest of his life, each of which could cost hundreds a month.

That’s why his family has set up a transplant fund for him. Those interested can make a tax-deductible donation by mailing it to KTF-Brandon Barnes, P.O. Box 846, Suffolk, Va., 23439.