HARPER'S CHOICE resident Rita Benton started the New Year by receiving the gift of life -- a new kidney donated by her teen-age son, Shannon.
"I feel like a brand new woman," said Rita from her bed at Johns Hopkins Hospital last week.
"I told my son, 'You've given Mom a second chance at life.' "
The Bentons were admitted to the hospital on New Year's Eve.
A team of doctors, led by Dr. Lloyd Ratner, removed Shannon's left kidney and transplanted it to his 50-year-old mother.
Each half of the operation took about four hours.
For the last 11 years, the Bentons have lived at Abbott House, where Rita, a single parent, is property manager.
She was diagnosed as diabetic in 1979, and began having kidney problems about 18 months ago.
After her kidneys failed last June, Rita asked Shannon, her only child, if he would be willing to be a donor.
"Of course I agreed," he said. "She's my mom. I love her."
He was tested last summer and found to be compatible.
The operations were scheduled during Shannon's semester break. He is a freshman at Frostburg State University. Shannon graduated in 1996 from Wilde Lake High School, where he played football.
"By me doing this," he said, "my participation in sports will be limited. But I think this is more important."
His mother said, "I'm proud and I'm honored" that Shannon was willing to be a donor.
"God has been good to me. I know that my son will be blessed too," she said.
Shannon was home by the weekend. His mother was discharged from the hospital Monday.
Teens win quiz show
Tune in to WJZ-TV (Channel 13) at 9 a.m. Saturday to see Wilde Lake High School's team win its first round of competition on "It's Academic," an interscholastic quiz show sponsored by Giant Food.
Led by captain Meredith Peruzzi -- a senior who helped last year's team make it to the semifinals -- Wilde Lake's team includes two new members: Ritija Gupta and Raymond Cheong, both juniors.
The team is coached by Nancy Austin, a social studies teacher at the school.
Watch as Wilde Lake's whizzes defeat the Centennial High School team, as well as a team from Anne Arundel County's South River High School.
The teens won $350 in scholarships, which will be split among three team members and awarded at graduation.
The team now advances to the play-off round, which will be taped in April in Baltimore.
Toastmasters to meet
The first meeting of a new Toastmasters Club in the Columbia area will be held from 7: 30 p.m. to 9: 30 p.m. tomorrow at Wilde Lake Interfaith Center.
Organizer Murray Simon, a longtime member of Toastmasters, says the program will include an introduction to Toastmasters and a demonstration meeting, led by Betsy Buck, president of Columbia Toastmasters Club.
The group will meet on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month.
The club is affiliated with Toastmasters International, a nonprofit organization that provides opportunities to practice public speaking in a supportive environment.
The new club will be the second Toastmasters club in the area. The Columbia Toastmasters Club meets Monday evenings at the Owen Brown Interfaith Center.
For information, call 997-7702.
Resolved: Be fit in '97
If you resolved to improve your health in 1997, you may want to check out the classes offered by the Wilde Lake Community Association.
Drs. Brian and Lindsey Heaton and personal trainer July Templeton will conduct two workshops at Slayton House.
The first, "Healthy Weight Control," will be held from 7 p.m. to 8: 30 p.m. Jan. 16.
It will focus on maintaining weight loss through lifestyle changes, nutrition, fitness and self-empowerment.
The second workshop, "Nutrition for Optimal Health," is scheduled from 7 p.m. to 8: 30 p.m. Jan. 30.
Participants will learn how proper nutrition can increase energy, slow the aging process and ease health problems.
The fee for each workshop is $10.
Baltimorean Tim Gregory, who presented the Nada Brahma workshop for children in November, will offer a six-week Hatha Yoga course at Slayton House.
One-hour classes will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesdays, beginning Jan. 15.
The cost is $60.
Pre-registration is required for all classes. For information, call 730-3987.
Church holds concert
The Columbia Church of Religious Science will present a free concert by the group Sacred Ground at 10 a.m. Sunday at the Hawthorn Center, 6175 Sunny Spring. Information: 750-8559.
Pub Date: 1/08/97