From the Archives: Fall 2008 Issue of Lupus Now
By Teri Allbright Wildrick
When Cameron Bonner was diagnosed with lupus as a college freshman in 1998, it wasn’t the first time he’d attracted some attention. He was already known as a talented musician, an outgoing person with a great sense of humor, and the ninth of Emmett and Mary Bonner’s 15 children.
The Bonner siblings, who range in age from 43 to 23, are very close, says sister Jessie. “Imagine having 14 people out in the world who totally know where you’re coming from. If anything’s wrong, you have 14 people who understand.”
When Cameron needed a kidney transplant, two of his brothers were perfect matches. Marty, a pastor, donated a kidney in 2005, and both he and Cameron recovered in a fairly short time. After the transplant, Cameron toured the United States and countries including New Zealand and Cambodia with Continental Ministries, entertainers who travel the world spreading a message of faith.
With his body’s defenses weakened by lupus, Cameron has always been susceptible to illness. In the past few years, he has had open heart surgery twice, as well as surgery to stop a brain hemorrhage. Then in 2007, he discovered that he needed another transplant when the first transplanted kidney began to fail.
In January 2008, brother Austin, a Marine lieutenant stationed in Japan, donated a kidney to Cameron. Since then, Cameron has been recovering in Southern California and continues to work in the Continental Ministries office there. He has been asked by the organization’s president to lead a team to Cambodia in 2009 for relief work. “I said that I definitely would,” says Cameron.
Touring the world, Cameron has acquired a multitude of loyal friends, all cheering and praying for him throughout the past few challenging years. As a result, the family started a blog, cameronbonner.blogspot.com, where friends and family can get the latest updates and leave messages for Cameron.
“He has amazing faith and believes that this is God’s plan for him, the road he was chosen to travel, and not a handicap,” says Jessie.
“I always found encouragement from people—the nurses, my family, my church family, and within myself,” says Cameron. “My faith in Christ has kept me strong, even in the darkest times.”
To others facing similar challenges, Cameron says, “Dialysis isn’t the end. It seems pretty dark, and it’s a painful thing to go through. But there’s hope with transplantation.”
Jessie encourages others to register as organ and tissue donors. “We were lucky because we have such an extended family,” she says. “But there are people on waiting lists for years. [Donating an organ] is a really positive thing that you can do for someone.”