Community hosts first fundraiser for 11-year-old boy who needs kidney transplant

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — As an 11-year-old boy battles kidney disease, a local community is rallying around him to show their support.

Joey Wood has dealt with kidney problems just about all of his life. His mother, Sharmen Wood, says she first discovered her son’s health issue when he was 6 months old.

“It was very scary at first,” Sharmen told WSAV.com NOW.

“He had urethra tube blockage, which is when instead of the urine going down to the bladder, it was just staying up in his kidneys,” the mom of five shared, adding, “It’s a little tough at times, but we’re making it work.”

She says in spite of her son’s illness, he still does his best to do what he can for others whenever he’s able.

“Joey is a very giving kid, he’ll help anybody anytime, anywhere,” Sharmen said. 

“For everybody to do the same for him, he was just like, ‘I’m just not used to people doing for me, I’m always the one!’ then I said, ‘well, it’s time for you to sit back and enjoy,’” she said.

He’s also active in St. Mary’s Baptist Church, where he’s known as a “little deacon” and sings in the choir.

Sharmen says her son hopes one day to become a mortician.

“That has been a dream for a while now, he’s always on YouTube looking up how to embalm people, he loves it,” she said.

In addition to medications, Joey recently started dialysis treatment for 12 hours each day.

“The first three days it hurt, and after that, it didn’t hurt no more, so I’m not scared anymore,” Joey told WSAV.com NOW.

He found out in July that he’d need a kidney transplant due to the severity of his condition. Right now, Joey is waiting to learn if he qualifies to be added to the kidney transplant list.

“We have to go talk to his doctor on Wednesday to see about getting him on the list,” Sharmen said.

She says her son wasn’t so thrilled at the thought of taking another person’s organ, but she explained that it can save his life. 

“The scary thing now is actually getting him to understand what a transplant is, because he keeps saying he doesn’t want anyone else’s kidney,” Sharmen said. “So, you’re trying to get him to understand that it’s to help him, and you can live off of one kidney.”

Despite many hospital stays, both out of town and locally, she says her son remains a “champ.”

“Every now and then he will have his down moment,  but it’s a given,” Sharmen said.

As a show of support for Joey and to help raise awareness about kidney disease, local organization Save Our Youth Savannah hosted a fundraising event on Monday in honor of Team Joey.

Joey’s family and friends say the event, hosted at the corner of Fell Street and Augusta Avenue, was the first of many similar events to come.

Hollis Johnson of Above and Beyond Inc. transported Joey in a black van to his special fundraiser as several people from the community came out to show support.

Joey sold all kinds of snacks and treats at the fundraiser, where visitors could also buy Team Joey t-shirts, masks, wristbands and water bottles.

“He has just about every snack that you can think of: Rice Krispies Treats, nachos that he’s made himself, chicken and beef,” said Joey’s publicist, Crystal Pitts.

“Joey’s always so independent,” she said. “We want the community to know that this isn’t just this isn’t an average boy. Joey’s been a fighter, and we want people to know that they can jump in and join the fight.”

Joey shared his thanks with the community for all their support along his journey.

“[My mom says] that we’re gonna get through it, and we’re gonna get it done,” Joey said.

To learn more about Joey Wood and his battle against kidney disease, visit his Team Joey Facebook page here.

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