A year ago this month, Hardie Clifton, a 50-year-old gospel singer with a bad heart, underwent transplant surgery after the White House lobbied Maryland officials to use Medicaid funds to pay for the operation.
On Sept. 12, Clifton and his wife Sherry will celebrate the first anniversary of his transplant with a small family dinner out. Clifton is doing well, riding a 10-speed bike twice a day for exercise, driving the family car for fun and transportation, eating unsalted foods and drinking diet sodas.
"I'm just an all-around guy; sitting around is not my thing," said Clifton, who lives in a White Oak apartment with his wife and 16-year old son, Hardie Shawn Clifton. Life, he said, is "falling in line pretty good now."
So good, in fact, that he is back on the gospel circuit. He has performed twice in his home state of North Carolina, and on a recent weekend he drove to Stamford, Conn., to perform. On Sept. 14, he will be appearing in Washington at the J.P. Shaw United Methodist Church, 2525 12th Place SE, starting at 8 p.m. Admission is free.
"I love to sing," he said. "I want to get it all out of my system." His favorite songs are "I Won't Give Up" and "The Lord Will Make a Way," he said. He is hoping to make some records and is negotiating with companies in New York City and North Carolina.
The Cliftons live on $671 a month in Social Security and disability checks. Their subsidized apartment is "a blessing," said his wife.
Clifton went through a transplant rejection scare last Christmas, but he passed a checkup in June with flying colors. The antirejection drugs he must take, however, have had side effects: cataracts, hypertension and diabetes. "But we're dealing with that, no problem," said Sherry Clifton. The side effects are treatable, and "if he has to have [cataract] surgery, we'll deal with it. All of it's better than being dead."