Dialysis Diaries: Donor Tribute
**Dialysis Diaries: These are entries written while sitting in dialysis. I am thankful for wifi and for a chance to get my blood cleaned out at the same time. At this is what I look like the majority of the time.
Now, on to more important matters. Some of you are just now jumping in on this transplant journey with me, and some of you have been around for the duration. No matter where you find yourself on the information train, I hope that this entry blesses you.
Ten years ago I found out that my kidneys were failing. I was working at Kentucky Christian University and was told that I would have 5-10 years of function with my kidney before needing a transplant. Because my original kidneys were over-achievers, they failed more quickly than anticipated and I found myself on dialysis in May of 2005. A month later I received a transplant from Susie. Susie had been an intern for me in Venezuela and was currently a student at KCU. She was in my small group and wanted to give me her kidney.
The transplant did not go as either of us expected. I remember waking up from surgery with several doctors around, talking and looking at a monitor as an ultrasound was being performed. I was super groggy, but I do remember clearly when one of the doctors said "we have to get it out of there." The kidney had clotted off, and was no longer able to function inside of me. There was no rejection nor did my body build up any antibodies against it. So back to surgery I went.
I woke up to a situation of which, to this day, I consider to be one of my worst days ever. I had been intubated, which means that I had a tube down my throat. Let's just say: I'm a gagger. So it was torture. I was given the choice to receive meds that would help me sleep for a few days, or I could stay awake all night trying to improve my breathing and try to get my lungs strong to get the tube out. For me it was a no-brainer. During that time I had visitors come in and out, but the most impactful was when I looked over and and saw sweet Susie walking in the door. Remember: She had just been through surgery too and so she had the hospital gown on and was connected to a pole in order to receive IV fluids. Her mom was helping her walk in to see me. Our exchange was limited because of my inability to talk. I don't want to share what Susie said to me in those moments because I want to keep it between us. But I remember using every ounce of my energy to try and avoid weeping which would cause serious gagging. We have talked off and on over the years about our situation and how we felt during that time. To put it simply, we shared a broken heart.
We have remained good friends and I have been encouraged to see how God has blessed her life: she and her husband lived on the mission field for the better part of a decade and they have been blessed with 4 beautiful children. My life is better because Susie is in it.
Back on dialysis I went. Over the next 6 months I continued on dialysis. I was recovering from the failed transplant and preparing for transplant #2. And on December 15, 2005 I received a second transplant from a guy named Scott:
Scott was a Social Work professor at KCU at the time, and he felt like God had led him to donating his kidney. He had talked it over with his wonderful wife, Nora, and their two girls and they all decided that it was something he should do. (I have to give a big shout out to Nora here, because she apparently kept him focused on those days when he wasn't too keen on donating) ;) The second transplant went off without a hitch and in 10 days I will celebrate 9 years with Scott's kidney. He and Nora have continued to bless my life and I enjoy a special relationship with them because of his sacrifice. This usually includes mexican food. ;)
I think about Scott and Susie all the time. I am alive because of their sacrifice. When I think of them this verse comes to mind: "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13. Scott and Susie risked their lives to save mine. Their actions have shined light on Jesus' sacrifice for me. They have represented Christ in their actions, and I am forever grateful.
It's weird to me to think about going through this process again. Another donor. Another transplant. It's kind of surreal. And honestly, I haven't really processed it yet. It's a lot to take in. A lot to ponder. A lot to accept.
I don't know who the next donor will be. I understand that several people have called in to be tested. That blows my mind. I look around here in the clinic and see people who will be here until they take their last breath. People who aren't eligible for transplants. And here I have people lined up to give me their kidney. I know it's because it's what Christ is doing in their lives and not really anything that I have done. Which makes grace that much sweeter.
Scott and Susie, thank you. And I pray that God continues to bless your lives in unbelievable ways. I will always be a testimony to your graciousness, kindness, sacrifice, and love.
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