Fundraiser set for kidney patient |

Fundraiser set for kidney patient

by Scott Neuffer
Nevada Appeal News Service

Disease can cripple a body and obstruct the normal course of life, but it cannot destroy a mother’s love.

“As a parent, you want everything for your kids. When something like this happens, you do everything you can,” said 50-year-old Gardnerville resident Lani Peneueta. “I need to see some life in his eyes. I need to see some kind of hope.”

Peneueta has been fighting for her 28-year-old son Heath since he was 16 years old, when he was first diagnosed with lupus, an incurable immune system disorder that attacks the body’s tissues and organs.

“He used to be the one that never got sick, never got a cold, never got an earache or sore throat, but then this happened,” she said.

Because lupus is triggered by ultraviolet light, Heath, who loves sports, has had to remain indoors.

“He teases that he lives like a vampire,” Peneueta said. “He’s a real quiet guy and he’s tried to stay healthy, but he’s restricted in what he can do. He plays a lot of computer games and video games, and that’s what he would like to do ” design computer games.”

Peneueta said it was a battle to find health insurance after Heath was diagnosed.

“Nobody would carry him. We relied on Shriner’s until Social Security, disability and Medicare kicked in a couple of years ago,” she said. “Financially, it has been a battle. I have had to work at least 50 hours a week.”

Heath’s father, Ron Crawford, passed away in 1990. Lani and Heath have been living with her boyfriend, Michael Jacobs, for 15 years.

“He’s been a wonderful step dad,” Peneueta said. “And Heath’s younger brother Aaron and his older stepbrother Josh have been big supporters.”

In 2003, Heath’s kidneys started to fail.

He began dialysis and was placed on a transplant list at the University of California, Davis, although a date has not yet been set.

“They won’t go forward with a transplant until there is funding for the anti-rejection drugs,” Peneueta said.

She said Medicare won’t cover the cost of the drugs.

“They’re about $3,000 to $5,000 a month, and he has to be on them the rest of his life,” she said.

To pay for the drugs, friends of the family will host a spaghetti feed and raffle fundraiser 5-8:30 p.m. on Nov. 18 at Indigo Restaurant in the Minden Village.

Counselor Jodi Wass and restaurant owner Lori Baxter are organizing the event, and Wass will be collecting silent auction items. Those interested in donating may call Wass at (775) 450-2826.

“Heath doesn’t like feeling sorry for himself,” Peneueta said. “We can’t let this consume us. We have a lot to be thankful for, and we appreciate every little thing.”

Peneueta thanked the community for its love and support.

“This community is so awesome. It’s heaven on earth as far as I’m concerned,” she said.