North Carolina

A worried boy tells President Trump his dad needs a kidney. Dad is now recovering

Trae, left, and Fore Putnam during an outing. The family says it was surprised to get a letter from the White House in response to a letter Fore wrote to President Trump.
Trae, left, and Fore Putnam during an outing. The family says it was surprised to get a letter from the White House in response to a letter Fore wrote to President Trump.

An ailing North Carolina man was thrust into the national spotlight in March, after it was learned his 8-year-old son wrote to President Donald Trump asking for help — and the president responded.

Trae Putnam suffers from a rare blood disease, and needed a kidney transplant, The Charlotte Observer reported in March.

Seven months after Trump wrote back to Putnam’s son Fore, the Burke County man underwent a kidney transplant, according to a GoFundMe page set up by Fore’s grandmother, Shelia Sherrill.

Sherill said the transplant surgery was Oct. 16, according to the GoFundMe page.

Trae fund me.JPG
This screenshot shows Fore, left, and Trae Putnam, who recently received a kidney transplant. GoFundMe

I feel like a new man,” Trae Putnam said Wednesday, adding he has more energy than ever, according to WJZY. The TV station reported family friend Donnie Saine donated a kidney to Trae.

That was after Trump wrote his letter and brought attention to Trae’s plight.

He was suffering from “complete renal failure ... and has been on dialysis for nearly three years” before the transplant, family friend Amy Estridge wrote on Facebook. She wrote that, last Christmas, Fore’s wish was to find a kidney for his father.

“After praying every night, Fore asked his grandma (Sherill) who on Earth could help him get his dad a kidney,” Estridge posted on Facebook. “That’s when Fore turned to writing letters; one to Ivanka Trump, one to Santa, and one to the President.”

Trump wrote back, saying he informed the White House staff about the situation and they were “working to see what help they can provide.”

“It is clear that you care so much for him,” the March 16 letter reads. “I can tell you are a brave young man with a big heart. I admire your determination to make sure your dad has the support and resources he needs to feel better. I hope you know how much joy and encouragement you already bring him.”

Then a doctor in New York “got a call from President Trump or the White House telling him about what was going on,” said Trae, WJZY reported.

Trae and Sherill went to New York in April to meet with doctors about the transplant, per WBTV.

Sherrill wrote the transplant took place at Baptist Hospital, but did not indicate if the N.Y. doctors were involved with the procedure. She did point out there are mounting medical bills.

As of Thursday afternoon, the GoFundMe page had raised $48,057 of its $50,000 goal, with 968 donations in seven months.

Fore said he was grateful to the president, but was well aware his father was not the only person in need of help.

“There’s a lot more people who need a kidney than just my dad,” Fore said, according to WJZY.

President Trump welcomed freed North Carolina pastor, Andrew Brunson at the White House on Oct. 13. Brunson thanked the president for securing his release from a prison in Turkey.

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Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.