David and Sarah
The following story is from David.
My wife, Mary, was diagnosed with breast cancer in January, 2012. Confronting this, she learned a very personal lesson from the Psalmist, who said, "Thy eyes beheld my unformed substance; in thy book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them." She says, "This illness is not a surprise to God, and will not shorten my life, because He has determined my days." I am so thankful that she learned that, so she could teach it to me for when my kidneys failed that summer. Facing dialysis or transplant, my prayer was what the apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians, that whether by life or by death Jesus Christ would be glorified in my body.
As we were preparing for me to start dialysis, my nephrologist encouraged us to also start the process for transplant. So, we did. Both of my wonderful daughters immediately offered to donate, but I was against that, as there had always been a question whether perhaps my kidney problem was hereditary. In addition, some friends also asked to be considered as donors. I was overwhelmed by such love! I had always known that these people loved me, but this was a demonstration of love for which I was not prepared. The team at Iowa Methodist Medical Center was incredible. They were supportive throughout, and assured me that everyone, and especially my daughters, would be checked thoroughly, so that if there were ANY indication of hereditary kidney disease or other problems, they would not be accepted as donors.
At the outset, my younger daughter, Bekah, with her husband Kyle came to see us one Sunday. Nearly in tears, she said she could not proceed with a kidney donation. I assured her that I was okay with that. Then she told me why. She was pregnant! That, of course, was an unexpected joy that helped to sustain and encourage me through the whole process. But, then my older daughter Sarah became the prime donor candidate.
It was determined that Sarah was a good match and we could go ahead with the transplant. During her testing Sarah was found to have aneurysms of her splenic artery. (Subsequently, at least three of the doctors who cared for me have told me that these aneurysms are usually not diagnosed, but rather this is a fatal condition determined at autopsy. Any abdominal trauma or even pregnancy could cause these aneurysms to burst, and the person bleeds to death internally in a very short time.) We believe that all these circumstances are a clear demonstration of God's grace and goodness. By allowing Bekah to become pregnant, Sarah necessarily went through the work-up where her aneurysms were found.
Incredibly, despite some pretty bad lab values, I continued to feel good, and never had dialysis. Sarah and I had surgery on August 14, 2012. Along with her donating her kidney, Dr. Chaudhry addressed the aneurysms and took out her spleen. After surgery on Tuesday, we were able to be discharged on Friday! That is still incredible to me. Also, incredibly we had quite a number of visitors during our short stay that encouraged us. I was particularly blessed that my brother, Derek, came for the day of surgery and the day after.
Those who cared for us were amazing! All of the staff members at Iowa Methodist Transplant Center were so very good to us consistently. Some people especially went over and above in our situation: thank you! (You know who you are!)
During the two months of recovery when I was off work, many people and especially my co-workers offered prayers, sent cards and encouragement, and brought food. In addition, ever since surgery, the transplant team has continued its excellent work. They have followed my lab work, stayed in contact, and adjusted my medications. Their professionalism, knowledge, and skill are tremendous, and I am truly grateful. I am also very grateful for Bekah's healthy baby girl, Leah. She was born March 2, 2013. Mary and I are doing our best to spoil her along with the rest of the grandchildren.
I have been given a new chance at life, and I am so very thankful to God, and to my family, and to so many wonderful people who helped me through this amazing journey.