Young Gospel Singer Getting Ready for Life Changing Surgery

By: Allison Hunt Email
By: Allison Hunt Email

(WVLT) - Since he was five months-old, the youngest member of the Southern Gospel Group The McKameys has been living with kidney problems.

Next week, 13 year-old Eli Fortner will undergo a surgery that will change his life.

Volunteer TV's Allison Hunt sat down with the family to talk about it.

Music is a huge part of Eli Fortner's life.

He plays guitar and sings with his family in the Southern Gospel group, The McKameys.

His father, Roger, got him interested in guitar at a very young age.

"He said just listen to all sorts of music and stuff, figure it out," said Eli.

But, now his father is giving him more than the gift of music... he's giving him his kidney.

"I'm a little scared about it, naturally. I've never been cut all my life, I've never had any surgery, I've never been put under," said Roger Fortner.

But as a perfect match, Roger Fortner wouldn't have it any other way.

"I've showed him guitar and try to teach him a little wisdom along the way, but where it comes up, you have to give him something to sustain his life, there's really no words to describe that," said Roger.

"I ain't really nervous, just more excited," said Eli.

Those may be words you don't expect from a 13 year-old about to have a kidney transplant.

"It's exciting to know that I'm gonna feel better and it's a relief that I'm not gonna feel sick anymore hardly," said Eli.

And something else he's happy about...

"I'm looking forward to drinking a big large coke, 'cause now I'm on a drinking diet, so I have to drink very little," he said.

And his favorite thing to drink?

"Sweet tea!"

His mother, Connie, has saved hundreds of e-mails and cards showing support.

"They're praying for him and thinking about him and it's just phenomenal," said Connie Fortner.

The family says along with their music, that's what's gotten them through such a tough time.

"Our songs, we live by our songs, we sing and it's kinda like you live by what you preach," said Roger.

Eli's surgery is Tuesday, October 2 at 8:00 a.m.

Roger and Eli hope to be well enough to join the rest of the group at Dollywood on October 20.

If you would like to send your wishes, you can do so by going to the Fortner's webpage by clicking the link below.

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  • by Joetta Location: Man West va on Oct 25, 2010 at 07:21 PM
    hi eli i hope u r feeling better . i am not a christian but i listen to u and ur family all the time
  • by Pam Location: Alabama on Oct 11, 2007 at 12:19 PM
    Hope that everything went well with your surgery. We will be praying for you and your Dad. We love to hear you all sing and share the gospel with others. We love you. Steve and Pam Montgomery
  • by linda Location: danville va. on Oct 5, 2007 at 06:27 PM
    hi eli, i know u don't remember me but i met u at tunstall high school in va . a few years ago. i have pics of u n your family, your mom is actually the 1 that lead me to the LORD ,yeup, she has probably forgotten. i wud come home from work n watch the mckameys over n over again. awww u was just as cute then as u r now. infact i held u when u was little. i want u 2 know that i am praying 4 u n your family. u know the man that u r always singing about, n u know that he is in control n he is gonna take care of u, so keep the strong faith that u have n u will b just fine., again u r n my prayers. take care. p/s tell your mom hello 4 me.
  • by Brenda Location: Clinton on Oct 4, 2007 at 02:22 PM
    Roger and Eli: We sure do miss you! So happy that you are doing well. Looking forward to seeing you soon. God bless you guys! BG & LG
  • by Cindy Location: The Knoxville Journal on Oct 3, 2007 at 04:53 PM
    My prayers are with you and your dad, but I know God's got everything in control. God Bless you and your family=) Cindy
  • by Pauline Talley Location: Habersham, Ga on Oct 2, 2007 at 12:01 PM
    Because They've seen a better place, Angels offer hope to us in our darkest moments. My Prayers are with Eli and Roger.
  • by Ruth Applegate Location: Fisk, MO on Oct 2, 2007 at 10:20 AM
    Know that our God has You and Your Dad in His Hands We are praying for you.
  • by Nikk Morris Location: Tennessee on Oct 1, 2007 at 11:45 PM
    Hey Eli, this is Nikki Morris i just wanted you to know that you are in my thoughts and prayers, you and the whole family. Eli remember God never starts anything that he does'nt finish. I believe God still has work for you to do here, just keep the faith it will bring you through it did when we where in the hospital together 8 years ago and the faith will be there now .. I Love You .. Nikki
  • by Linda Dillon Location: Shawsville, VA on Oct 1, 2007 at 10:03 PM
    We've been so blessed by your ministry. You will be in our prayers tomorrow. I know God will bring you through.
  • by Celia Pettit Location: Indiana on Oct 1, 2007 at 09:44 PM
    Thank you so much for this interview. Eli was in the top 5 nominations for the young artist award for the Singing News Gospel Fan Awards last month in Louisville Kentucky. It was a blessing to see him perform. Their family truly is what they sing. Again thank you for the interview.


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