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Couple continues transplant after theft

February 1, 2011

It's been almost three months since a Newton couple was robbed of money for a double-lung transplant.

Patty and Ken Arnold are in the early stages of the transplant process at Duke University Medical Center in Durham and are continuing with Ken's procedure — with or without the money.

The Arnolds never recovered the $1,100 in cash stolen from them Nov. 6 when a supposed stranded driver asked Patty for a ride. The stranger was in the car momentarily before she jumped out of the back seat, taking Patty's wallet and the money donated to the Arnolds from American Legion Post 48.

No arrests were made in the incident. After filing the original incident report, Hickory Police Department never returned the couple's calls for updates.

But the Arnolds' misfortune didn't go unnoticed from friends and family.

"I'd like to thank everybody who's been helping us," Patty said. "It's been great that people have seen the need, especially when there's already so much need out there."

One of the Arnolds' children created a Facebook page to help raise money for Ken's transplant process, which can take up to four months before he receives lungs. Ken's physician at the Veterans Affairs hospital, created a fund for Ken at the BB&T in Newton for anyone who wants to donate to Ken's treatment.

The Arnolds were surprised to receive a check from a South Carolina doctor who wanted to help with their needs.

"I trust you will be able to receive the lung transplant," the doctor wrote, adding that he, like Ken, is in the pre-transplant phase.

"It was just so wonderful," Patty said of the doctor they never knew before his donation. "Apparently, he must have heard about it or saw it on Facebook."

On Feb, 12, the Arnolds will have spent one month in Durham, taking classes and preparing for the long process that is a double-lung transplant.

"It's pretty daunting when you think about it," Patty said. "They're going to cut you open and put new lungs in your body."

Ken must undergo 23 sessions of pre-transplant classes and preparation, which include daily exercises. He said the first few days left him sore, but he feels himself grow stronger for the transplant every day.

Patty also must take classes for post-transplant caregivers. She will learn how to care for Ken after his transplant and the special instructions for his care once he receives a new pair of lungs.

"It's a little daunting, but the other wives or caretakers in the class, they have to learn the same things," she said.

The transplant takes the couple away from their family in Catawba County, but for the Arnolds, time away from the family is worth it to ensure Ken's good health.

After the pre-transplant sessions, Ken must receive word that not one, but two lungs are available and match the specifications he needs.

"You not only have to wait for someone to expire, which makes you sad to think about it, but you have to find the right match, too," Patty said.

But Ken isn't worried.

"I'm at the best place to get (a transplant)," he said. "I've got faith in the Lord, and I've got the best doctors."

Donations can be made at BB&T to Kenneth Arnold, Double Lung Transplant, BB&T, 2004 N. Main Ave. in Newton, N.C. 28658.

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