Lupus nonprofit helps local raise money for kidney transplant

Published 9:00 am Thursday, March 23, 2023

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A local lupus organization has given a sizable donation to a local resident in dire need of a second kidney transplant.

Alia Brown, who has lupus nephritis, was the recipient of $3,000 raised from Fifty Shades of Pain Inc.’s annual lupus walk in 2022. Lupus nephritis is a type of autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the body’s cells and organs.

Initially, Brown received a kidney, but she got sick during the COVID-19 pandemic and now needs a second kidney donation.

“Alia needed her second kidney. Her mom gave her first kidney and through COVID she got sick again and realized that she needed another kidney,” Maria Harris, founder of Fifty Shades of Pain said. “The organization came together to help her with funds for her next kidney, along with other expenses she may have.”

Brown’s mother, Felicia, said she was amazed at the community’s support.

“When I found out I was able to give Alia her first kidney I was overjoyed, I wish I could do it again,” Brown’s mother, Felicia said. “It was a blessing to see everybody that came out to support her. Seeing and hearing all the prayers and blessings and the comfort of knowing that we had people rooting for us and supporting us was wonderful.”

Brown said she was speechless and grateful for the support of the community.

“It was heartwarming to see people caring about what somebody else is going through and wanting to help out in the way that they did,” Brown said. “It just lets me know that there are people out there that will give support, shine positive light, and encourage you to keep going until the situation can get better. It was really nice.”

Brown was previously placed on the donor list for a new kidney. However, in September she got sick again and had to be placed inactive until she was cleared. As of February, Brown has been placed back on the list as active.

“When you’re on that list, when they call you, wherever they call you from, you have to be ready to go, and we wanted to make sure she had enough for any kind of expenses,” Harris said.

Harris said to be able to give back on such a big scale felt good.

“My heart just goes out to all Lupus survivors because I’m a survivor,” Harris said. “I have Lupus nephritis, the same kind Alia has. It could have easily been me there, and I know that I would’ve wanted someone to help me. It fills my heart with so much joy to be able to help the other survivors because we never know when it could be us.”

Through the nonprofit, Harris works to help survivors in the community throughout the year with medical expenses, utilities, travel and gives out gift cards to those in need.

“I started Fifty Shades of Pain Inc. as a way to give back to other survivors. I was inspired to name it that because it really is fifty shades of pain. Lupus affects everybody differently,” Harris said. “People say you don’t look sick, but we feel sick. Sometimes symptoms don’t always show, and we want to bring awareness that Lupus is more than just a rash or joint pain — it attacks your organs.”

In her own Lupus journey, Harris has gone through two hip replacements, chemotherapy and high doses of steroids. 

“When I came through that sickness in 2016, I was inspired to open my own business and named it Blessed Realty Group because God has blessed me, and I feel like he wants me to bless and serve others,” Harris said.

This year the walk will take place on May 6 at Granger track and Field at 8 a.m. Harris said they are looking for volunteers, sponsors and survivors. 

“We’re looking for survivors because we want to help as many people as possible. We need volunteers and anybody who can come out and walk because the more people the better,” Harris said. “We just want to make sure that we’re bringing awareness, spreading the word and helping to make this autoimmune disease visible.”

She said last year saw 300 people attend. This year Harris estimates 500 people to attend.

“We bring so much awareness to the community, and hopefully, each year it will continue to grow,” Harris said.

For more information on the 2023 Lupus Walk or how to become a kidney donor, visit or call 706–350-5083.