The founder and director of a popular Gullah gospel group that has been performing at events around the Lowcountry for 25 years has been in the hospital for three months with a flesh-eating disease.
Lynnette White was first treated in August with necrotizing fasciitis, an infection that attacks the body's soft tissue. The flesh-eating bacteria causes severe pain and requires surgery.
"I had just performed the day before but wasn't feeling well," White recalls. "I ended up in the emergency room and then in the operating room not too long after."
Nine more emergency surgeries followed during her three-month hospital visit. She couldn't move from the bed. Eventually, she was transferred to a rehab hospital in Mount Pleasant, where she practiced walking again.
She finally went home in November, assisted by daily in-home nursing care. Since then, White has had two more emergency surgeries. Her wounds have to be treated, cleaned and bandaged every day.
White, whose health insurance doesn't cover the full cost of her treatment, teaches piano lessons in addition to performing with The Plantation Singers. She hasn't been able to work since she was first hospitalized.
One of the parents of two of her piano students decided to start a GoFundMe for her.
Meaghann Jordan started the page on Dec. 4 with a goal of $10,000 to cover White's medical debts. So far, more than $8,000 has been raised.
"Lynnette has been faithful to bring joy to our community through her gifts of music," Jordan pens on the page. "Please help to bless their family during this urgent time of need."
White also cares for her elderly mother and daughter. During her hospitalization, friends, family and community members poured in to help, she says.
"I love my community and I just want everybody to know I’m working really hard to get better and bring the group back out for singing," she says.
White has had to put performances with The Plantation Singers on hold, forgoing her livelihood and passion. She says the group usually has 150 to 200 shows a year.
White has high hopes she'll be back, at least for a few gigs, in January — as long as she can avoid more hospital visits and surgeries.
"I ain't letting it get me down," White says.
White's GoFundMe page can be found at gofundme.com/f/hospital-billsplantation-singer-lynnette-white.