Grandfather, community raising funds for his double lung transplant

STANTON, Mich. -- Doting over his nine-month-old granddaughter in his lap, Jerry Greenhoe sat with his oxygen tank sharing stories of canoeing and fishing with his family.

Greenhoe, 53, is a grandfather retired from 55-hour weeks as a tool and die maker in Greenville, hopeful to be registered on the organ transplant list in Grand Rapids for a double lung transplant. Now his family and community are raising funds to show the hospital he can afford the medications following the surgery he's hopeful he'll receive.

"Most of the fun is getting to spend time with the kids," Greenhoe told FOX 17 at his daughter's home Wednesday.

"This big!" his grandson Jace screamed when asked how big the fish he caught was, while sitting on a chair appropriately sized for a three-year-old.

From their memories down to the shirt Jace wore with "outdoors" written on it, Greenhoe, his wife Michiele and their dozen grandchildren live for their time spent together outdoors. Yet canoeing, fishing and camping trips along the river slowed in recent years due to Greenhoe's progressive breathing issues. In 2011 he says he was diagnosed with the rare lung disorder Bronchiectasis, a condition that can't be cured.

"With heat and humidity, and the cold weather changes, it makes it real difficult to breathe," said Greenhoe. "So some days I don’t even venture outside."

Usually connected to oxygen, Greenhoe's silliness with his grandkids continues despite hospital stays. Currently he's hopeful to be placed on the transplant list by June. In order to qualify for the transplant however, Greenhoe says he must be healthy enough and also raise about $10,000 to $12,000, in order to afford post-surgery anti-rejection medication for the first year. Greenhoe says that medicine alone costs about $1,500 per month, after insurance.

"My sister Kim, she spearheaded the whole cookie thing, and she’s been baking her little heart out for about a month or so now," he said.

Between Greenhoe's sister baking hundreds of dozens of their grandmother's cut-out cookies for bake sales, to his upcoming March 17 benefit dinner and raffle, Greenhoe also advocates for others to become organ donors like himself.

"Organ donation is really a good thing, there’s so many people who can benefit from it," Greenhoe said. "So I’m a pretty big advocate of that, I’m also a registered donor myself.”

"I would like to still be able to donate whatever organs I could yet, because I’m sure I still have a few good ones yet."

Kissing his granddaughter on his lap, Greenhoe says he's humbled by continued support, starting with his family.

"It's truly amazing to have everybody get out there and help support you."

Anyone who would like to help Greenhoe fundraise for his double lung transplant can visit his GoFundMe page, or attend his March 17 benefit dinner and raffle. The benefit will be held at the VFW hall located at 209 Washington St. in Sheridan, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

If you have questions or would like to help otherwise, call Greenhoe's daughter Sara: 616-894-0389.

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