Fund established for liver patient

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 29, 2007

A lifelong Butler County resident is in need of a helping hand as she battles for health and life itself.

Ruth Smith, a 1957 graduate of Greenville High, suffers from liver disease and now requires a transplant.

A fund has been established in her name at Colonial Bank to help Smith and her husband Evan with their mounting expenses.

A formerly active woman, Smith's illness has been devastating.

&#8220 Back in October 2003, I got so, so weak. I was retaining so much fluid, I went from about 182 pounds up to 226 pounds in just no time at all. I knew something was seriously wrong,” Smith recalled.

After some of the more than 30 pounds of fluid was drained, Smith was transformed to the University of Alabama in Birmingham Hospital, where they determined the extent of her liver disease.

It's been an increasing struggle both physically and financially for Smith and her husband.

&#8220I had worked for 25 years for Boss Manufacturing. Then I had to quit my full-time job a few years ago so I could take care of my husband, Evan, who was having a lot of health problems,” Smith said.

She was able to find part-time work that meshed with her schedule as a primary caregiver.

&#8220I did have a big Avon route going - I could do a lot of that over the phone - and then all this hit me back in 2003. I asked myself, what else could possibly happen?”

While some days are better than others, Smith's health has degenerated to the point where she is now in need of a new liver.

Each day she plays a waiting game.

&#8220They have put me on the list. When they find a match - provided there is not someone else who needs it even more than I do - they will call me,” Smith said.

&#8220 So I don't know. It could be in a few days or it could be several months before I get the call I just have to wait and see.”

In the meantime, the Smiths travel back and forth to Birmingham as needed for Ruth's condition. They are thankful Ruth's blood work can be done locally, with the results sent to her surgeon at UAB.

&#8220Those trips up there get expensive with the gas prices going up and they are real tiring on both of us, too,” Smith said.

The financial burden has been challenging on the couple.

For those who want to offer assistance, donations may be made at any Colonial Bank branch to: Fund for Ruth Smith (or Evan).

&#8220We appreciate any help anyone can give us. I do believe everything is going to work out because God is in control of it all,” Smith said.