PEPPERELL — For nearly all of her 20 months of life, Vivian Lemire of St. Charles, Mo., has lived without kidneys.
While in utero, it was discovered that Vivian had polycystic kidney disease, and at the tender age of 4 weeks old, she underwent surgery to have the diseased organs removed.
Once she hits 23 pounds, Vivian will be eligible to be waitlisted for a life-saving organ transplant. She is currently just two pounds shy of that mark. Even though her parents, Richard and Cara Lemire, have health insurance, the out-of-pocket expenses for the surgery will cost approximately $50,000.
So when Chrissy Ferron, former resident of Pepperell and Richard’s cousin, heard about her family’s ordeal, she knew she wanted to do something to help raise the money.
Ferron, who has been a Stampin Up! demonstrator for 13 years, said “I’m always up for a stamping class, so I decided to turn it into a fundraiser for Vivian.” Stampin Up! offers products for card-making, crafts, paper-crafting and scrapbooking.
Stamping for Vivian will be held at the Pepperell Community Center on Sept. 29 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For a donation of $25, crafters can make handmade cards using top quality materials and stamps.
Though she currently lives in Connecticut, Ferron lived in Pepperell for over a decade and knew she wanted to come back to hold the event.
“I may hold one in Connecticut, too, but I have a lot of friends and family in Pepperell,” she said.
She will also be raffling off a Stampin Up! gift basket and having a crafter’s yard sale. All of the proceeds will go to helping Vivian.
“We were talking about $1,000 being a really nice goal,” said Ferron.
Vivian’s parents have also been working close with the Children’s Organ Transplant Association, a charity based in Bloomington, Ind.
Due to generous donations and other fundraisers, the Lemires have been able to raise about $23,000 for Vivian’s surgery, according to COTA public relations coordinator and close family friend Tami Marsala-Joyce.
Although they’re almost at the halfway mark for the expenses, the actual transplant is dependent on donor availability, according to Marsala-Joyce.
“Once she’s put on the list, they’ll have to have a phone by them at any given time so they can act quickly,” she said.
Joyce was not previously a member of COTA but joined on behalf of the family and of Vivian.
For nearly 300 days out of the first year of her life, Vivian lived in the NICU. Though she is currently home, she must travel to Cardinal Glennon Hospital in Missouri four days out of the week to receive dialysis treatments, which can be a half-day ordeal, according to Joyce.
“It’s tough on her. (The dialysis treatment) is truly meant for an adult, not for a baby, but there were no options,” said Vivian’s aunt, Barbara Lemire of Lowell. “She’s a great little fighter. She’s our miracle baby.”
The Lemires’ first child passed away from the genetic disease two days after her birth. The chance of it reoccurring in their second child was 25 percent, according to Joyce.
“It’s been very difficult for them. They’re both very strong individuals and very compassionate and they both have the patience level of saints,” said Joyce. “Their little girl is incredibly strong and very feisty. She has been a fighter throughout this.”
For information about the fundraiser, Ferron can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 978-337-2869.