After waiting 11 years for a liver transplant, Don Herbert’s dream came true this spring.
The Kannapolis resident and member of Conover-based Gospel group, Parable of Christ, who often plays venues throughout Lincoln and its surrounding counties along with several states up and down the East Coast, received a new liver five weeks ago at Duke University Medical Center in Raleigh.
The 54-year-old said he’s particularly looking forward to playing with his band for the first time since his surgery at a special benefit dedicated to him Saturday in Hickory.
The fundraiser’s proceeds will go to cover the cost of Herbert’s medical bills, which have surpassed $1 million, he said.
Doctors diagnosed him with cirrhosis after he underwent gall bladder surgery more than a decade ago. During a follow-up appointment, the surgeon saw a shadow on Herbert’s liver and ordered it be biopsied, he said.
The diagnosis shocked him since he was not an alcohol drinker and he faced a disease typically caused by heavy alcohol drinking.
While he remained stable for several years after his diagnosis, he took a turn for the worse six months ago.
“My kidney function got worse, and (doctors) called me in because I was having trouble with kidney stones,” he said.
The same day he met with medical officials about the stones, they told him he was also going to get a liver transplant. The day was March 8.
Herbert’s poor kidney function had bumped him up to the top of the region’s transplant list, he said, and nine days later, he had surgery.
While he spent 10 days at Duke, he called his time there “an amazing week and a half.”
However, doctors were even more puzzled after the surgery, unable to determine the true cause of their patient’s condition.
They referred to Herbert’s cirrhosis as “cryptic” or “NASH” (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis), he said.
For the last two weeks, he’s been confined to his home, not allowed to drive or lift anything over two pounds.
Although his kidneys are still not functioning 100 percent due to anti-rejection medications, Herbert is staying positive.
“I’m feeling really good,” he said. “Every day is a new adventure.”
As his health progresses, he hopes to one day work again since he’s been on disability for the last 11 years.
While he tried to keep a job, he said no one would hire him, and he had little energy from his condition.
Herbert’s benefit will start 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Brookford Community Center, located at 1700 South Center Drive in Hickory. Parable of Christ will take the stage at 5 p.m. Other activities will include a B.A.F.C. Mustang Club race-horse showing, mud trucks, silent auction and more. For more information, call (828) 320-0759.