Doctors called Christine Clark Curti "the miracle child." Born with one kidney and diagnosed at age 4 with renal disease, she lost two-thirds of her remaining kidney at that tender age; and while doctors performed major surgery to save that last one third, her prognosis was not good. "My wife, Carol, and I thought that would be it," said George Clark, Christine's father. "We would lose our little girl." "They said I had six months to live," said Christine Clark Curti, now 49, adding with a quiet smile, "And here I am."
For years Clark Curti, of Holiday, survived and thrived with her single kidney. She married musician Kevin Curti, her high school sweetheart, had a daughter, Nicole, and went on to establish a successful career as an emergency room autotransfusionist, helping maintain the blood supply for patients during surgery.
She dreamed of going back to school to further her medical career. This dream, along with her career, was put on hold six years ago, when extreme feelings of fatigue, severe headaches and other symptoms indicated a recurrence of her renal disease.
"My doctors told me that I had end-stage renal disease," she said. "I need a transplant."
The once active Clark Curti is unable to work or attend school. She undergoes nine hours of dialysis treatments every night, has several doctors' appointments every month and recently visited Shands at the University of Florida to prepare for her transplant.
Before she gets her new kidney, however, she needs funds to facilitate the transplant.
The surgery is expected to cost $250,000. The medications she will need after the procedure will cost $1,200 to $2,000 a month. Her insurance will cover some costs, but she still expects to pay much of the expense out of pocket.
Her friends and family are working to ensure this Miracle Child gets a second miracle. They've organized a pair of fundraisers this month, both featuring her husband's band, KC and Vocal Chords.
"My band has played benefits for everything from breast cancer to the Humane Society," said Kevin Curti. "It isn't until the shoe's on the other foot, when you're the one in need of help, that you realize just how much it means."
Kevin Curti said people have come up to him at shows and made cash donations for his wife's fund at The National Foundation for Transplants, in amounts as high as $200.
One concertgoer even offered to donate her kidney. Two of Christine's friends also have offered kidney donations, and soon will be tested for their suitability. Countless other friends, some of them former classmates at Hudson High School, have called and written with offers of money and support.
And local businesses have donated gift baskets to be offered through drawings at Clark Curti's fundraisers.
"I'm extremely touched," she said. "I never knew so many people cared."
While awaiting her transplant, Clark Curti spends time writing poetry and doing crafts in her home. Some of her handiwork can be seen at Central Park Restaurant, where guests can buy a smiling paper kidney drawn by Clark Curti for a dollar, sign it, and place it on the restaurant wall.
All proceeds go to her transplant fund.
Although she defines life as "limited" right now, Clark Curti has dreams for the future. After her transplant, she wants to become an advocate for kidney patients.
"There's an emotional and a mental side to this disease, it's not just physical. I want to show these people that someone cares," she said. "And after people have been so kind to me, I want to pay it forward."