Benefit for Gracie

The Kernersville Moose Lodge is hosting a fundraiser on Saturday, August 24 at 4 p.m. to help raise funds for Gracie Peoples, a local teen with heart failure, to help with medical bills.
Gracie, who is 14, was diagnosed with heart failure in June of this year after having trouble breathing.
Gracie’s mother, Stephanie Peoples, explained that Gracie was struggling to breathe at night before going to bed three days before she took her to urgent care.
“She was having a hard time breathing when laying down to go to sleep but was fine during the day. Even when we took her to urgent care, she never felt anything with her heart; we just thought it was a respiratory thing,” she said, as she explained that when the nurse took Gracie’s vitals at urgent care, her heart rate was at 246. “They told us it should be under 100. That was a red flag for them, so they did an EKG and chest x-ray and told us her heart was enlarged and there was fluid around it.”
After doing the tests, Stephanie said they were sent to the local emergency room and then flown to UNC Medical Center in Chapel Hill.
“They said she has heart failure because her heart was barely working. They still have no idea what caused it. They said it could be in her DNA to have heart problems,” Stephanie explained. She said she is taking her other two daughters, Mady, 9, and Kennedy, 4, to the doctor to be sure they have no heart problems.
Stephanie said Gracie was in the hospital from June 5 – July 15. She was released three weeks ago. Stephanie explained that Gracie also had open heart surgery to have a left ventricular assist device inserted, which is a bridge to have a heart transplant.
“This machine beats her heart for her. It will keep her heart working until she is able to get a donor heart. They said they would call us as soon as one becomes available and that on average, it can be six months to a year to get one, but she can take an adult or pediatric heart,” she shared.
Once Gracie is told a heart is available for her, Stephanie said they will have to return to the hospital to have open heart surgery again.
Stephanie explained that even if Gracie is not able to receive a heart, she can live with the machine she currently has for the rest of her life; however, it isn’t an ideal lifestyle. She added that Gracie was an active teen and was a cheerleader before she had heart failure.
“She can’t get the machine wet, so she can’t go swimming. She has to carry a battery pack with cords coming out of her stomach, and she has to clean it everyday and change the dressing around it,” Stephanie explained. “It’s hard because you can see it and she has to always carry the bag around, so she has insecurities. There’s just a lot of stuff she can’t do anymore.”
Stephanie added that everywhere they go, they have to take extra batteries and an extra computer chip in case the batteries die, and she has to plug into the wall at night.
“We also have to go back to UNC once a week, every week for bloodwork and checkups,” she explained.
Despite all that Gracie has been through, Stephanie said she has had a great attitude.
“For a 14-year-old, she’s been really great and she has lifted me up. She’s just really deep-thoughted for her age. When I get sad about it, she lifts me up and says God is using her to bring people closer to Him,” she shared.
Stephanie explained that once Gracie receives a heart, they have been told that they can expect for her to be in the hospital for two weeks while she recovers.
“Then they’ll have to kill off her immune system so her body won’t reject the new heart, and she will be on a lot of medicine for the rest of her life – especially for the first year – taking anti-rejection medicine and medicine to help fight off colds and sickness,” she said.
Stephanie said she is very thankful to the Kernersville Moose Lodge for hosting the benefit for Gracie, which will be helpful in paying medical bills.
“It’s wonderful,” she remarked. “You never know how much people care until you go through something like this. We’ve seen an outpour of generosity, and it’s a little overwhelming because you don’t really know how to thank people.”
During the event on Saturday, August 24, the Kernersville Moose Lodge will have a bake sale and all you can eat hot dogs for $5. There will be a silent auction and a live auction. They are currently selling raffle tickets for a $300 bank card at $10/each.
The Kernersville Moose Lodge is located at 1250 E. Mountain St. in Kernersville. For more information, to purchase tickets or to make a donation, contact Les Leamons at 336-339-9841 or Robbie Tucker at 336-707-0671.

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