Group Rallying For Childhood Friend

FRANKFORD, Del. — After learning that multiple organ transplants will be needed to save the life of one of their childhood friends, a group of past and current Sussex County residents are rallying the community with a fundraiser to help pay for the operations and subsequent aftercare.

Prudence Sanders, 36, was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes 25 years ago.

“It’s something she’s lived with her whole life,” said Jackie Johnson, a longtime friend and one of the organizers of the “Dear Prudence” fundraising event.

Due to complications from the disease, Sanders requires both a new kidney and pancreas.

“She’s at a crossroads,” said Johnson.

Fortunately, Sanders already has a donor lined up for one of the organs.

“Through nothing short of a miracle, her boyfriend Mickey [Downes], who is our hero, is a near perfect match for a kidney,” Johnson said.

While Downes is a match for a kidney, Sanders did have to place herself on a donor waiting list for a pancreas transplant. With an average wait time of one to six months, Sanders is optimistic that she will eventually receive an organ.

“I’m hoping sooner rather than later,” she said.

But even if both operations are successful, the medical bills associated with such extensive surgeries are beyond what most insurance providers cover. That’s why Johnson and more than half a dozen of Sanders’ other childhood friends have organized the Dear Prudence fundraiser.

“It’s a handful of lifelong friends actually handling everything,” said Johnson.

The fundraiser will take place Saturday, Oct. 8 at the Frankford Fire Hall, featuring a silent auction, 50/50 raffle, beer, food, and bands, among other things.

Though still several weeks away, Johnson confirmed that community support is accumulating quickly. On a Facebook page made specifically for Dear Prudence, Johnson revealed that more than 400 guests have already confirmed attendance.

The main goal for the group now is to reach out to people in the community who don’t know Sanders.

“We’re trying to get local businesses involved,” she said. “We just want to get the word out. “Besides monetary donations we are also trying to get donations from local people and/or businesses that would be willing to donate items for the benefit night, whether it is food, money or actual auction items, nothing is too small.”

The rallying of support made an impact on Sanders, though she admitted that she isn’t surprised her friends would host the event.

“I think it’s awesome,” she said.

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2 thoughts on “Group Rallying For Childhood Friend

  1. Your story about Prudence Sanders and Organ Donation highlighted the tragic shortage of human organs for transplant operations.

    There are now over 110,000 people on the National Transplant Waiting List, with over 50% of these people dying before they get a transplant. Most of these deaths are needless. Americans bury or cremate 20,000 transplantable organs every year.

    There is a simple way to put a big dent in the organ shortage – give donated organs first to people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die.

    Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. Everyone who is willing to receive should be willing to give.

    Anyone who wants to donate their organs to others who have agreed to donate theirs can join LifeSharers. LifeSharers is a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free at or by calling
    1-888-ORGAN88. There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition. LifeSharers has over 14,700 members as of this writing, including 251 members in Maryland.

    Please contact me – Dave Undis, Executive Director of LifeSharers – if your readers would like to learn more about our innovative approach to increasing the number of organ donors. I can arrange interviews with some of our local members if you’re interested. My email address is My phone number is 615-351-8622.

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