Ojai rallies to kidney patient's
by Kelly Feser Eells
Andy Hernandez, described by those who know him as "full
of energy," is typical of most 13-year-old boys in many
respects. He is also atypical in many respects, because few,
if any, of his friends were born with small, weak kidneys; fewer
still have to connect to a dialysis machine six nights a week
- for up to 10 hours a stretch - which Hernandez has been doing
for the last two years.
Hernandez's last surgery, on Nov. 29, 2000, cleared the way for
him to start the intensive dialysis treatment he's been enduring
these last two years. Immediately prior to that surgery, his
kidneys were declared completely useless and the search for a
donor began. On Monday, Dec. 9, he's having hernia (a frequent
complication associated with rigorous dialysis) surgery.
"Andy came into my life when he was 6 years old," said
Gloria Jones, owner of Ojai's Around the Corner Art Gallery/Plush
Surroundings Interiors. "He's a wonderful kid, and his mother's
a terrific lady. And now, after two years of great suffering
by both his and his mother, Rosa's - who's been by his side every
step of the way - parts, it looks like they've finally found"
a suitable donor.
Indeed, Andy's paternal uncle, Soccoro Hernandez, was found to
have a matching blood type, and was brought to the United States
from Mexico on Oct. 31. However, he leaves a wife and 10 children
in Mexico and, in the interim, "Andy's family has been supporting
To help offset these expenses (much of Hernandez's own medical
expenses are being covered by MediCal, CCS, and Medicare), Jones
is donating 5 percent of all Around the Corner sales through
the month of December to the LUPE - Latinos Unidos Pro Educacíon
- account set up on Hernandez's behalf at Washington Mutual Bank.
She further encourages the community to attend an Andy Hernandez
"fun" fund-raising event, "... featuring Mexican
food, live music and dancing," on Dec. 20, beginning at
6 p.m., at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, 185 St. Thomas Drive. Tickets
are $10 apiece, and may be purchased at Around the Corner, 105
S. Montgomery St.; Jones may be reached at 640-8844.
Lourdes Carranza, who, more than two years after her own kidney
transplant, still gushes over "what Ojai, as a community,
can do" when need be, is similarly dedicated to helping
the Hernandezes through their ordeal. "The opportunities
to help people come all the time," said the self-effacing
Signal Street resident; "and I know that Ojai can do a lot."
Even before undergoing her own life-saving surgery in September
of 2000, when she received one of her "hero's," sister
Concha Jiminez's, kidneys, Carranza was known for "giving
back to the community I love. I may not have money, but ..."
Her voice trailing off, she indicates that, next to being mother
to 10-year-old son, Alan, "helping people, especially people
in need" is what she loves best. And, to that end, Carranza
is coordinating a fundraising rummage sale on the Hernandezes'
behalf. The rummage sale is scheduled for Jan. 11 - time and
location not yet confirmed - but Carranza is now accepting donations,
and will accept them "up to two days prior" to the
event. Please call 646-7017 for drop-off information and/or
Proceeds from both of the above-listed fundraisers will be deposited
in the LUPE/Andy Hernandez account. Direct deposits may also
be made to the (Washington Mutual Bank) LUPE account, No. 1793315574,
indicating "Andy Hernandez, kidney" in the memo portion
of the check.
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
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HERNANDEZ awaits a kidney transplant from his uncle.