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Family, faith and prayer: All important as man heads for liver transplant

By Mike Barnhardt

Enterprise Record

Family, faith and prayer – the Ben Wallace family has been blessed and they’re going to need all as they headed to Pittsburgh Tuesday, where Wallace will receive a liver transplant.

Their Mocksville First United Methodist Church family sent them off with a prayer vigil on Monday night. Wallace is married to the former Ryanne McDaniel, and they have a 5-year-old daughter, Reagan.

Wallace has been dealing with chronic liver disease since 2011. A liver transplant is his only hope for survival.

In 2008, following a colonoscopy, he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation and ulcers in the digestive tract. He received an infusion every eight weeks.

But his health continued to deteriorate, and he was diagnosed with a long-term progressive disease of the liver common with those with IBD.

He posted about his condition on Facebook in March of this year, and a donor – a complete stranger who saw the request on a prayer list – stepped up. They were found to be a match.

The surgery will be at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the top hospital in the country for performing liver transplants. The hospital performed 100 such transplants in 2020.

“Living donors are given the rare chance to save someone else’s life and see their friend or loved one return to health and happiness,” Wallace said. In his case, it is a stranger. Living donors generally have healthier livers, making the recipient have improved outcomes and a quicker recovery.

Through it all, he said he has been humbled by the outpouring of support from the community.

“Through many prayers and the outpouring of love and support from friends and family in Davie County, many fundraisers have been held to help cover the costs of travel, lodging and the surgery. We would like to thank the community for its continued love and support. The overwhelming love and prayers are greatly appreciated now and continuing through the lengthy recovery.”

The cost of the transplant is close to $1 million, not counting the expense of family and caregivers traveling and staying away from home. First Methodist is accepting donations at: 310 N. Main St. There is also a Go Fund Me page.

Senior Pastor the Rev. Lori Anne Bowen and associate pastor the Rev. Natalie Gray offered prayer, scripture and annointment of oil at the Monday event. All in attendance offered their own prayers, and a “laying of the hands” to the family was held.

“We pray for your time in Pittsburgh, for the doctors and the nurses, and off of the caregivers there. We pray for your family,” Gray said. “May these hands continue to uplift you.”

“They are ready,” Bowen said in prayer. “They are leaning upon you, upon the prayers of the people. When they feel weak, may you grant them strength. Offer them hope.

“Your family will be right there to pray for you and to care for you, just as God loves you,” she said.