She says her four children hate to leave her at the house alone. “There have been so many times when they’ve called an ambulance for me that they’re afraid I’ll need help and they won’t be there.” But Latoya McGruder isn’t concerned. She is frustrated. The 33-year-old Columbus single mother, who has been a teacher, a child care provider and juvenile corrections officer, says “I want to go back to work.”
She hasn’t done so since 2003.
“I don’t know if I’ll be able to if I don’t get a new kidney,” she says.
The former Spencer High student was diagnosed in 1999 with a kidney disease called focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). She suffers from lupus as well. The problem was discovered after surgery to remove her gall bladder.
She has had several operations since and once she was on life support, having to be shocked back to life. At times, fluids have built up in her body and made her feel “like I’m drowning.”
“I’ve had a lot of health problems but I think they all stem from the kidney condition,” she says.
She makes regular visits to Boxwood Dialysis in Columbus.
“I’ve been given the okay for a new kidney,” she says, “but I need to have $10,000 to pay for the medicine needed afterward.” The Georgia Transplant Foundation will match $5,000 if she comes up with the first $5,000.
“With children and no job, that’s not easy,” she says.
Friends have set up an account for her at branches of Columbus Bank & Trust. Other fundraising is being planned.
She seems to be in good spirits but her father James McGruder, a retired police officer in Los Angeles, says not everything is as it seems.
“This has all been quite devastating,” he says. “Think about having to go three times a week to get toxins taken from your body. She’s had so much work done to her that it’s difficult to even find a place to put a catheter now. She’s always been a hard-working girl, sometimes handling two jobs. Now, she can’t do anything. She handles it well but there’s a lot of hurt.”
At one time, she lost 40 pounds but she has gained much of it back.
“I look healthy,” she says. “That can be hard for me because people won’t believe how sick I’ve been. I don’t want to be sick anymore. I want a job and want to do well for my children. I need that transplant.”
FRIENDS HAVE set up an account for her at branches of Columbus Bank & Trust. Other fundraising is being planned.