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Woman awaiting lung transplant
Benefit concert set for Saturday night
lung transplant 1 jd
Linda Smith of Forsyth County is awaiting a double lung transplant. A benefit concert is planned in her honor Saturday. - photo by Jim Dean

• When: Saturday, bake sale and auction at 4 p.m., concert at 6 p.m.

• Where: Mount Tabor Baptist Church, 7900 Mount Tabor Road

• Donations can also be made to Linda Gilbert Smith’s Lung Transplant Fund at Citizens Bank of Forsyth County, 651 Veterans Memorial Blvd.
Linda Gilbert Smith had lung surgery at 15, with a doctor advising her she would need a transplant in a few years.

“I’ve made it 48,” she said.

The hospital at Duke University is ready for Smith, 64, to move to the Durham, N.C., area so she can be near when donor lungs are available. But Smith doesn’t have the money for the costly double transplant.

A benefit bluegrass and gospel music concert will be held Saturday at a local church to help raise the more than $350,000 Smith needs.

The Forsyth County native said she was “sickly” as a child, dealing with several bouts of pneumonia, which left her with permanent lung damage.

She had breathing problems at a young age, which a doctor diagnosed as asthma, a condition that ran in her family.

But it wasn’t until age 15, when a visiting doctor recommended she see a specialist, that she was diagnosed with bronchiectasis.

The condition causes the lungs to widen and retain mucus, which can cause infections.

Despite her weak lungs, Smith said she has led a “normal life.” She’s been married for 44 years and has two daughters and two grandchildren.

All that, she said, despite her surgeon’s advice in 1962 to not get married or have children, since stress could make her susceptible to pneumonia, further weakening her lungs.

Smith worked nearly all of her adult life. She had to stop in 2007 when a disease that destroys the intestines caused her to drop 30 pounds from her slight frame.

She said the rapid weight loss “was weakening my lungs by the minute” and accelerating the need for a transplant.

While she’s since regained the weight, she must use an oxygen tank. Her husband, Milton, fought through bone cancer last year.

Despite financial and health hardships, Smith said she keeps a positive outlook through her Christian faith.

“I’ve been through a lot, and I just can’t believe that God would let me go through all this for nothing,” she said. “There’s a reason I’m still here.”

Lifelong friend and relative Elizabeth Forbush said Smith may be small, but she’s a “spunky little fighter.”

“She has a wonderful attitude, a great will to live and a great optimistic attitude for the transplant being successful,” she said.

Forbush has been amazed at the community’s response to the benefit she organized for Smith on Saturday.

Eleven family-friendly musical acts are scheduled to perform, including the nationally known Gospel group Curtis Jones’ Isonics Band.

“We’re just extremely blessed,” Forbush said. “I found some compassionate hearts.”