Three days after a double lung transplant in April, Kisha Criss was sitting up and laughing. By October, she was able to make a trip to Gatlinburg, Tenn.

Even though friends and family report good news about Criss’ current health, there remains many physical battles to face and many bills to pay.

The 29-year-old was born with cystic fibrosis, a disease of the lungs that finally deteriorated her health enough to get her on a lung transplant list at the Columbus Children’s Hospital in Ohio.

“Her skin was gray from her body’s lack of oxygen before the transplant,” said Criss’ older sister, Carrie Tomlin. “Three days later, she was pink, sitting in a chair and sticking her tongue out at me.”

In October, Criss was hospitalized again for life-threatening blood clots in her heart and lung.

“No matter what happens to Kisha, you never hear her complain. I’ve never heard her say ‘Why me?,’” Tomlin said. “Her trust and faith in God let her know that he is going to take care of everything. She says, ‘I’m still breathing, therefore, praise God.’”

After about a month’s stay because of blood clots, she was able to go back home to her husband, Billy, and their 4-year-old daughter, Ally, in Westwood. But on Wednesday, she was back in Columbus.

“Her anti-rejection levels were low,” Tomlin said. “There are some signs that her body was rejecting the lungs but the doctors can deal with that. Luckily, there’s no infection at this point.”

Because of Criss’ current health, it is not certain whether or not she will be able to attend her own benefit concert, which is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Friday at Christ Temple Baptist Church, 2400 Johnstown Road in Huntington.

“It was our church’s idea,” Tomlin said. “It’s going to be a great night of music and there will also be a silent auction with all proceeds going to a lung transplant fund for Kisha.

“The total amount of bills has to be more than $100,000. The cost for the anti-rejection medication she has to be on for the rest of her life is astronomical. I couldn’t even give you a figure on how much they have to spend on that.”

The family’s home church is Westwood Christian Baptist, where Criss’ husband is the associate pastor. But Christ Temple Church, Tomlin said, has opened its doors to the cause to provide more room for concert-goers.

Missy Harris of Catlettsburg, also a member at Criss’ church, has worked to make the concert a success.

“There’s a lot of reasons why I was so interested in being a part of this effort,” she said. “Kisha has been a friend of mine for years. Just watching her life and seeing all that she has been through and her faith in God is an inspiration to me. She absolutely is a miracle.”

Admission to the benefit is free but a love offering will be taken. The concert will feature Christian music by Witness, the Christ Temple choir, John Darin Rowsey and special guest, Ricky Atkinson and Compassion from Sylvester, Ga.

“We want to help lift some of that financial burden off Kisha and her family and also spread the word of what God has done for her,” Harris said.

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