LIFE SUPPORT — Kelly Fox is scheduled to receive a kidney transplant from her donor, her best friend’s husband, Ron Engel, on Aug. 3. A benefit to defer costs for the surgery is scheduled for 1-6 p.m. Sunday at the Grape-N-Grog in Camden. (Photo submitted)

‘Capeless hero’ lends helping hand

Published Jul 15, 2017 at 4:00pm

CAMDEN — A local family is looking for help from the community on Sunday to support a hometown “capeless superhero” to save the life of a Camden woman.

A benefit to help offset costs of transportation, housing, medical, medication and lost wages, as well as other expenses associated​ with a kidney transplant for Kelly Fox, will be held from 1-6 p.m. at the Grape-N-Grog, 85 Taberg St.

The friendship between Fox and Kelly J. Engel began through a unique circumstance. Engel has her own history with renal disease and had undergone dialysis for 11 years.

“My mother, two of her siblings, their mother and some of her siblings all had transplants and others have been diagnosed with renal failure,” Engel said.

During the time of her dialysis, Engel said she was introduced to Kelly, a 1995 graduate of Westmoreland Central School, who was going through the same thing. Her friend had received a kidney transplant from her mother at the start of her failure that clotted and needed to be removed.

Kelly, “had started dialysis prior to myself and was a great mentor in the psychological aspect of being young and facing a lifetime of chronic disease,” Engel said.

“We became fast friends and through spending time together, she met my brother Ted Fox, a 1989 graduate of Camden Central School,” Engel recalled. “They began dating and were married in May of 2000. We both became Kelly J. Fox, sitting side-by-side on hemodialysis machines until I married my husband Ron in December 2000.”

Kelly Fox received a cadaver kidney in Pittsburgh on June 4, 2002. She was able to have a child in 2006, but due to declining health, her daughter was born at only 27 weeks, weighing 1 pound 4 ounces, Engel said. Emma is now a healthy, soon-to-be 11-year-old. The pregnancy did take its toll on Kelly’s kidney however, and between her and her doctors, she was able to keep it working enough to keep her off dialysis until last summer. She returned to dialysis in August.

In the meantime, Engel said she was still waiting on a call saying the transplant center had found her a match.

“Since I’ve had several other medical issues, I was high risk for surgery and since my failure is genetic on my mother’s side, it eliminates any of my siblings and relatives on her side” from being donors, Engel said. “My husband, Ron, wanted to be tested and took the news pretty hard when they told him they wouldn’t even test him because he had suffered a near fatal motorcycle accident just before our planned wedding in September 2000.”

She said, “My dad’s youngest brother was sent to do some electrical work in a hemodialysis center and was taken aback by the life one leads to stay alive. He immediately signed up for testing. On Oct. 31, 2006, I received a life-saving kidney from him at Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, since none of the closer hospitals were able to transplant me.”

Fox has run into a similar problem as Engel based on her medical history and complications.

“She had centers come right out and tell her they weren’t willing to even put her on a list,” said Engel of Fox. “She tracked down the surgeon that did her 2002 transplant and found him at Mount Sinai in New York. He is willing to do the surgery and Ron was now healthy enough to be tested. He is a match.”

The surgery will take place Aug. 3 and family, as well as friends, are hosting Sunday’s benefit.

“We all feel there’s a divine plan and a reason for everything,” Engel said. “Kelly and I meeting over kidney failure brought her and Ted together. Ron and I married and his motorcycle accident kept him from giving me his kidney. My uncle was taken into a center after I had been doing dialysis for 11 years and he ended up being a match for me. Now Ron is a match for Kelly. It’s all for a greater good, even when the event seemed so devastating, like Ron’s motorcycle accident.”

Anyone who cannot attend Sunday’s event, but would like to send monetary support, may do so through PayPal at: Share_a_spare@yahoo.com and click send money to family or friends. Checks or money orders may also be sent to: Share Your Spare, 8377 Dixon Road, Camden, N.Y. 13316.