Home / News / Fundraiser Tuesday to help Ocean City woman pay for lung transplant

Fundraiser Tuesday to help Ocean City woman pay for lung transplant

Mar 11, 2023Mar 11, 2023

Emily Heiner has cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that affects the lungs, among other organs, and makes it very difficult to breathe. She shows a collage of family pictures at her home on March 27.

Party for Emily, a fundraiser to help support Ocean City resident Emily Heiner who is in recovery from a double-lung transplant surgery, will be held at Buxy's Salty Dog on 28th Street on June 13 from 6-10 p.m.

"We are anticipating a massive crowd there to support Emily," said Sandy Abrams, a friend of Heiner and her husband, Scott, who is helping organize their fundraising.

The party will feature a pig roast, happy hour drink prices, jam sessions from local musicians and an air guitar contest, Abrams said. There will also be silent and Chinese auctions, mystery prize boxes, cupcake raffle tickets and other activities.

Tickets are $25 per person and can be bought at the door. About 200 tickets are available, or as many people as they can fit inside the restaurant.

Fifteen of Heiner's friends are volunteering to help with the event.

Heiner has been in recovery since she received the surgery on April 12 at Johns Hopkins. She had three previous calls to surgery fall through and waited for about four weeks on the donor's list.

Heiner recently moved from the ICU to the MICU, and is now living in a standard room for the rest of her time at Hopkins.

"She is breathing on her own for the first time in about 20 years. No air tank, no oxygen generator," Abrams said. "She still has a long way to go, but everyday sees progress."

Heiner needed the surgery because of a collapsed right lung, which resulted from cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that affects many organs, but most prominently the lungs.

A CF patient's lungs fill with overly sticky mucus that blocks airways and traps infections.

"Basically, CF feels like, the best way I can describe it, is like breathing through a straw all the time," Heiner said on March 27.

Insurance will only cover 80 percent of the cost of $1.2 million surgery and the medication that Heiner will need for years post-surgery.

Heiner will need financial aid for at least a decade, Abrams said, so he and his wife, Karen, have been trained by and work with the Children's Organ Transplant Association, or COTA, an organization that provides fundraising assistance to children in need of organ transplants, according to its website.

COTA is running Heiner's fundraising even though she turned 35 on April 23, because COTA assists people of any age for certain diseases such as cystic fibrosis.

One-hundred percent of every contribution made through COTA goes to the patient's transplant-related expenses, and money raised goes to pay medical bills directly for the patient, Heiner said.

According to the donation webpage COTA set up for Heiner, more than $29,403 had been raised as of Wednesday towards her $65,000 goal.

A COTA representative met with the Abrams on April 13 for a training session about how to fundraise for Heiner around Ocean City.

"We (the Abrams) raise the money, it goes to COTA. It's put into her account for her, and as she expends funds the invoices go to COTA, and they write her reimbursement check or they pay the company that gets the money." Abrams said.

The first fundraising event in Heiner's honor was Emily's Paint Night Fundraiser for New Lungs on April 15 at T.C. Studios on 15th Street in Ocean City. The event raised $3,000 with 39 attendees, Abrams said.

To learn more about Heiner, visit

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