Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Transplant Story

Anyone who knows my mom knows that her favorite phrase is "there but by the grace of God go I" ... I struggled with the idea of sharing this story ... and then this phrase continually popped into my mind ... and I knew that if I didn't share this miraculous story I was doing a great disservice to my Heavenly Father.

My beautiful aunt on my mothers side was diagnosed with type one diabetes when she was eight years old ... throughout her life she has had to battle this brutal disease, with all the ups and downs it comes with. Since this diagnosis she has faced three separate surgeries which have served to better her quality of life ... first was a cadaver kidney which I don't know how long it lasted ... but I don't think it was too long. Second was my mothers kidney ... given seventeen years ago ... which has gotten her through the birth of her amazing son ... who is now eleven years old ... that kidney and what it went through in and of itself was a miracle ... but there is more to come. Third was a pancreas ... which for sure did not last long ... and was a super dangerous surgery (although if you ask her she will probably say that everything went smoothly) that nearly took her life.

Yet ... through it all this small little woman is the biggest fighter I have ever met. Her whole life has been a battle ... her relationships have been a battle ... her health has been a battle ... and yet ... she battles on ... every single day ... sun up through sun down ... she fights ... she is the strongest and bravest woman I know ... her will to live each day is phenomenal ... unfailing ... really.

But then her health again began to fail ... I believe it was the beginning of last summer she lost the functionality of my moms kidney and she began dialysis ... again ... we all knew that once she got on dialysis it would not be long before ... well ... I don't like to say it. My sister and I would continually offer our kidneys to her ... we had since before she started dialysis ... but she would never ... ever ... even consider asking us ... she was on top of the donor list ... that was good enough for her. Then it got bad ... really bad ... she had a heart attack at the end of summer this past year ... you could hear the tiredness in her voice taking her over with every call. No one said it ... but we were all scared.

Finally ... she built up the courage and asked my sister ... immediately we decide that both she and I will get tested so she gets the best possible match. So we did ... we tested ... I matched on five out of six level ... nearly perfect ... two months after testing started, it was a go ... green light ... plane tickets bought ... I'm ready.

Here is where the miracle begins -

On the day I was to leave there was a storm back east ... another "snowmagedden" ... my flight got cancelled ... I set it for the next morning ... that got cancelled too ... I lost it ... I called my coordinator ... he said to hold tight ... something came up with my aunt ... they didn't know if she could even go through with the surgery ... her heart. She knew her body could make it ... but her new cardiologist didn't ... she needed to wait at least a year from her heart attack ... but this cardiologist didn't know her or what her body could handle ... all the doctors and coordinators held a counsel ... they came to the consensus that she would be able to do it. The surgery would go forth ... but since I couldn't get into New York it would have to be postponed ... but they were not going to be doing surgery the next week so it was set for two weeks out.

Got it ... I'm still in ... let's go.

This past Thursday ... less than a week before I was set to leave ... my aunt went into dialysis ... luckily it was to be one of the last before the surgery. When she got there the nurses discovered that her port had closed ... uh ... what? yup ... her port had closed ... they told her that they could not dialyses her and that she needed to go immediately over to her doctors to get it taken care of ... when you are on dialysis you really cannot skip treatments ... ever. Over to her doctors she headed ... on her way there she received a phone call  ... "we don't want to get your hopes up ... but we have a cadaver kidney that matches better than your nieces" ... unheard of ... flabbergasted ... instead of heading over to her doctors she went straight to the hospital to get all the preadmission testing ... by four o'clock eastern time my dear aunt was rolled into surgery ... by ten o'clock she was wheeled out.

Despite all odds ... multiple organs transplants ... uncertainty as to where to put a new kidney ... the worry of calcification ... the worry about her heart ... the worry of her age ... the worry about what her body can actually handle ... it all went smoothly. Flying colors ... couldn't have gone better ... the kidney started doing what it does best almost immediately. Yet another new life has been granted to this amazing woman. She will now be able to watch her son grow ... graduate from high school and college ... marry a good girl ... be there for him.

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints I know that if my beloved aunt was to die it would not be the last time I would see her ... I know that I would see her again, her pain would be gone, and I would see her for a much longer time than I would have ever gotten to see her on this earth ... but that doesn't make it easier. What does make it easier is the grace of God ... Grace is a “divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ.” It is “an enabling power.” (as found in the Bible Dictionary). Because Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love us so much they will never leave us stranded ... they see the bigger picture ... they know what is to happen ... they see what is to come ... however, they will have us go through trials ... these trials strengthen us ... and as long as we are willing to stand close to them and do all we can do they will make up the rest. I know that I was supposed to prepare for this surgery ... I know that Heavenly Father's hand was in why my aunt is alive today ... I know that Heavenly Father loves me and my aunt ...we are his daughters ... I know that Jesus Christ sacrificed his life for us ... our brother sacrificed his life so that we might be able to feel this grace and see these miracles. He loves us ... I am so grateful for this ... I am grateful for all of these experiences he gives me ... I am so grateful for him and all he has done for each and every human being on this planet ... without our Savior I would not have been able to see my aunt again if she passed away ... I would not be able to see my Heavenly Father again ... I am so grateful for the life of my aunt ... the extent of which I will never be able to voice.

My Grandmother, Aunt, and myself on my baptism day.