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Grinch Makes Off With Money Needed For Double-Lung Transplant

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — A family at University of North Carolina Hospitals is going through a real-life "Grinch Who Stole Christmas" story. A thief got away with money that friends and strangers had raised for a double-lung transplant, but thanks to the generosity of others, there is a happy ending.

Kerri Waller and her family are spending the holidays in the hospital. She just moved here from Knoxville, Tenn., to wait for the double-lung transplant her husband, Scott, received this week at UNC Hospitals.

"He's been very sick and probably spent half of the last year in the hospital," Kerri Waller said.

A few weeks ago, Waller went back to Knoxville to pick up a few things, including $5,538. People in Knoxville raised the money to help pay for the transplant and living expenses, but when she went to the Wendy's in the hospital for her husband, someone stole the money.

"I went and sat down in a chair for one minute, got the napkins and went back to his room, gave him the food and maybe 10-15 minutes later, I realized I didn't have my purse," Kerri Waller said.

When Waller realized she left her purse behind, she went back to Wendy's. When she could not find it, she contacted hospital police, who found the purse in a trash can in the bathroom. However, her money was gone.

"I felt horrible for my husband -- for all the people that gave us the money. I felt guilty that I left it," she said.

Things turned around for Waller when Chapel Hill radio station

WCHL 1360

talked about it on the air. Listeners raised more than $7,000.

"It really touched people's hearts and people were just calling to say what can I do," said Eleanor Murray, of WCHL-AM.

Waller is recovering from his surgery. Doctors expect him to be in the hospital for many months to come.


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