Moberly Man's Struggle Unites the Community

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MOBERLY - After eight years of waiting for a kidney transplant, one Moberly family finally got the call saying to pack up bags and be ready to leave at a moment's notice--but also learned of an extra hardship that goes along with the transplant.

DeWayne and Angel Long live in Moberly with their three children. When DeWayne turned 30, he was diagnosed with double kidney failure, specifically known as focal segmental glomerulosclerosis. Both of his kidney's together function at a 15 percent level. Doctors told the family the average wait for a kidney would be around 18 months. That turned out to be much longer.

"We went through the ups and downs of being on the list and being off the list," Angel said. "Then we just started to function as though it may or may not happen. I don't want to say we forgot about it, but we kind of just went on."

DeWayne undergoes four hours of dialysis three times a week. He said the dialysis wears on his body.

"It puts quite a strain and a demand on life that you wouldn't normally have if you were a healthy person," DeWayne said. "I pray a lot. I want to be around for my children. I want to be around for my daughters to get married so I can walk them down the aisle."

DeWayne got put on the Northwestern Memorial Hospital transplant list in Chicago. This past April, family members found out that, during the kidney transplant and recovery process, they will have to live in Chicago for a month and a half, paying for a hotel and meals there.

"We didn't know that before, we thought we could just travel back and forth," Angel said. "They said they wouldn't do it unless we have the funding to stay."

Churches in the community have stepped up to help raise money to support the family. The Moberly First Assembly of God Church, along with the FaithWalk Church in Paris, have already raised almost $5,000 for the family.

"There are great people out there," DeWayne said. "I'm overwhelmed. My family's overwhelmed. I will probably never be able to repay them, but I'm willing to offer whatever services I can to them in the future."

The youth pastor of First Assembly of God, Kevin Gustafson, said he has really seen more than just two churches coming together to help out the family.

"They have a lot of friends and family behind them," Gustafson said. "It's cool to see how God can work together and bless their family."

The family could need up to $10,000 to cover the total costs, so on Friday, the First Assembly of God in Moberly will hold a benefit dinner at 6 p.m. There will be music, a meal and a silent auction. DeWayne will give his testimony and share his love of music on the piano. Gustafson said the church is excited to host the event for a family loved and supported by the community.

"It's a really good testimony to see," Gustafson said. "It's got to be a difficult time, but I don't see it affecting them in a negative way. It's actually bringing together their family and their church family, too."

The support the family receives from the community is also mirrored within the home. DeWayne's father, Harold G. Long, is the bishop at FaithWalk. He said DeWayne's positivity has helped his health.

"Even when he would be going through dialysis he would be weak and tired, and I always tried to work with him on a positive mindset," Bishop Long said.

That positivity carries over into the Long's home.

"We rally together," Angel said. "We support each other. We're each other's best friends."

The call last week to have their bags packed and ready to go at a moment's notice, left the Long's with a feeling of excitement that leaves them closer to their goal than ever before.

"Your expectations become more of a reality when you actually get that word," Bishop Long said. "That was really exciting to hear."

After years of playing a waiting game and the end potentially so close in sight, the thought of the phone not ringing and waiting longer still crosses Angel and DeWayne's mind.

"What if it doesn't happen..." Angel said. "We look at our life and we still count it blessed. If we have to go and keep the same routine, we'll go and keep the same routine."

DeWayne and his family said they are overwhelmed with the community support. They are standing by their phones hoping for the next call so they can head to Chicago and move forward with the transplant.

"We're not out there alone." DeWayne said. "It's been a blessing."

To donate money you can call 660-263-4361 or send it to Moberly First Assembly of God at 120 West Outer Road, Moberly, MO 65270.