By Brittany Pieper – email
SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) – When Drew and Ashley Furrh found out they would have their first child, the whole family was overjoyed. Like all parents, they hoped their baby girl would be perfectly healthy, but during the pregnancy, they found something wrong.
"Charley was developing normally with the exception she had one non functioning kidney," said her grandmother, Shelly Scamahorn.
Despite this news, the family still had high hopes baby Charley would be able to do anything she wanted.
"The other kidney functioned at 100%. Everything was great, and she would go on to live a normal, happy life," said Scamahorn.
She did, until at 15-months-old her doctors suggested they remove the bad kidney to prevent any further problems. On January 24th, 2011 the Furrhs took Charley, to Christus Schumpert in Shreveport.
"They took her in that morning, and she waved bye bye to her mom and daddy as she walked down the hall. She was happy, happy, happy," said Scamahorn.
Doctors told her parents the surgery would take a few hours, and she should be able to go home within a few days, but that's not what happened.
"5 hours into recovery she wasn't passing any urine so they took her and did a couple of ultrasounds. They couldn't find the kidney. Then, they took her and did a contrast nuclear study and had to come back and tell the kids that the other kidney was gone too, and that they had no reason, no explanation," said Scamahorn.
The family says after 7 hours the doctor told them during the surgery he had compromised the good kidney and had to remove both. They moved Charley and their lives to Children's Medical Center in Dallas.
"Their world's are turned upside down. They're living out of a hospital room. Dad is trying to survive going back and forth to work, trying to find that balance to preserve his insurance and be able to provide for his family. She can't get down and play. They're still in shock," said Scamahorn.
Now, their lives consist of dialysis treatments, doctor's appointments, and constant uncertainty. Uncertainty they feel could have been prevented if Christus Schumpert had given them better care. Weeks later, the family says Christus Schumpert still has not told them why they're in this situation.
"We've gotten bills, but no explanation," said Scamahorn.
The hospital declined an interview, but gave us this statement, "Federal privacy rules prevent us from releasing information on specific patients and the details of their treatment in our facility. For more than 100 years, CHRISTUS Schumpert Health Systems has been providing and will continue to deliver high quality, personalized care to all those we are privileged to serve. We daily invest in services all across our Christus Health regions as well as in our children's health programs to aid in our journey to continually improve the quality of care to everyone we serve because they are not just our patients- they are our neighbors, family, and friends. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Furrh family during this difficult time."
The Furrh family could not discuss any possible legal action, but said for now, they're trying to look forward instead of dwelling on the past. As they look forward, they hope a transplant is in their future.
"Our hope is we get a kidney. We find a kidney, and we get her transplanted, and we get her home," said Scamahorn.
Because Charley is so small, the complicated transplant process becomes even more trying.
"There are size requirements on both the recipient and the donors, so that's part of the assessment that we'll have to do during the evaluation. Truth is, this may not happen for a couple of years because the kid may not be big enough, or it may happen sooner," said Administrative Director of Transplants, Dean Henderson.
If Charley is cleared for a transplant, a genetic match from a live donor is best. The family hopes her aunt will be a good match. If not, the hospital will add her to the transplant waiting list along with more than 40 other children at Dallas Children's Hospital waiting for a kidney.
Nationwide, more than 100,000 patients are waiting for organ transplants. About 5% of those are children.
If Charley gets the transplant, her care will still cost millions of dollars over her life time. Transplants are expensive, and the medications patients must take after the surgery cost anywhere from $2,000-$5,000 a month
"People that don't have adequate insurance or funding, it can be a real issue to try and take care of that for the rest of your life," said Henderson.
The cost of care can be overwhelming, but the Furrh's said when they were hit with an unexpected tragedy, they also found themselves receiving unexpected support. Charley's Mother, Ashley created a page on the web site caringbridge.com so she could update family and friends.
"That was helpful to keep up with her and her progress," said Ashley.
To visit Charley's Caring Bridge site, click here.
People who read Charley's story forwarded it to their friends, and before long people from all over the world sent them both encouragement and donations.
"It's just coming in from everywhere, and people we don't even know," said Scamahorn.
While KSLA News 12 was at the hospital, Charley received a letter and donation from a group in South Dakota.
Friends have also planned a blood drive in honor of Charley from 10 a.m.-3p.m. on February 26th. It will be at First United Methodist Church located at 300 E. Houston St. in Marshall, TX.
There is also a fund set up at Citizen's National Bank in Marshall. To donate, people can call 903-935-6624. Charley's uncle, Duncan Furrh, is the account's trustee.
Marshall residents have also planned a Daddy/Daughter Dance to raise money. It will be from 6 p.m.-10 p.m. on Saturday March, 19 at the MArshal Visual Art Center. Tickets are $5.
"First, you feel like you're out here all by yourself. Like you're out on a limb. You're all alone. Then, you find out that there are all these people praying and standing in the gap for you when you're having a hard time with that," said Scamahorn.
While they still have a long way to go, each time someone sends them a new toy for Charley to play with, a home cooked meal, or a note of encouragement, they renew their spirits.
Now, they take things one day at a time, but they still have the same dreams they've always had for their precious baby girl.
"That's she's healthy, living a normal life. That she's happy," said Ashley.
As they look down the long road ahead they say their faith is strong, they hope for the best, and as they face this nightmare they feel extremely loved.