Saturday, June 13, 2009

In need of the gift of life

Vicky and her son Braydon

As I mentioned in a previous post, Jordan and I went to MUSC the other day so he could be tested and, we hoped, donate a kidney to our friend Vicky. She is in end stage renal disease from complications of Sjogren's, an autoimmune disease. For reasons we don't yet understand, Jordan is not the donor Vicky is awaiting. Just when we were getting ready to drive over for the second day of testing, Jordan got a phone call from someone on the transplant team. We were told that Jordan's right kidney is doing 94% of the work and his left one is doing only 6%. Jordan is fine with the one kidney; overall, his kidney function is excellent. But they would have left Jordan with the stronger kidney, and a kidney doing only 6% of the work wouldn't have done Vicky any good. This is a disappointment, but we feel there is a reason for it. There may be an even better match out there for Vicky, but that person just hasn't been tested yet.

Jordan wanted to give Vicky his kidney because he loves to help people. In all the years I've known him I don't think I've ever seen him deny someone something they needed if he had it to give. Usually it's been, for instance, a stranger who needs a few bucks or someone who needs help with a computer. When I told him he was Vicky's blood type and asked him if he might want to get tested, he saw it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to serve God. How many times in our lives are we able to be part of such a miracle as renewing someone's energy to live and work each day? To give someone more time with her children? There is no greater happiness than to look at your life and see that, whatever has happened, you are being used by God for some good purpose. It's why we are here.

The other day while I waited at the hospital for Jordan to get out of a test, I spent a few minutes catching up on my favorite blogs. I came across this post about service from Kristin's blog and a bit of scripture I'd seen many times but hadn't recently thought of. Jesus said "whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me" (Matthew 25:40). What an honor to be able to help someone in need!

If you feel so moved, please come forward and be tested to be a kidney donor for Vicky. Her possible donors will be blood type A or O, but if yours is different there's a possibility of working out a paired donation (literally a swap) with another recipient. The testing begins with a simple health questionnaire, and the entire first phase (including blood tests) can be done locally where it is convenient for you. You will not be responsible for the cost of testing; it will be billed to Vicky's insurance. Your information will not be shared with anyone--not even Vicky--and only you and the transplant team will know where you are in the testing process. You can live a long and healthy life with one kidney, and the surgery is now done laparoscopically for a quick recovery (2-6 weeks, similar to recovery from an uncomplicated childbirth). If you want to be tested or need more information, please email me (see my profile for address) and I will get you the contact info for the transplant team coordinator.

Maybe you aren't able to give a kidney but you'd like to help Vicky in another way. A monetary donation can be made for her here through the National Transplant Assistance Fund to help with out-of-pocket expenses not covered by her insurance. The costs of a kidney transplant are many and great. Please pray that a kidney for Vicky will be found soon. It would also be wonderful if you could link up to this post or email it to anyone you know who might want to help. For more about Vicky, visit her two blogs: Sjogren's and Me (about her illness) and 2LilPumpkins (about her life with her husband and two boys). One thing is for sure: She's a hardworking, loving young mom who deserves a happily ever after!

Thank you for your help!


Vicky said...

I have been sitting with my head down on the desk just crying. Thank you for all of your help. You and Jordan have done so much already. It makes my heart overjoyed to find friends like you. Thank you again.

GrandmaKathleen said...

You are Jordon are such special children of God and the most dearest of friends to my first born, son, John Michael and my daughter-in-law, Victoria. Unfortunately the outcome of Jordon's testing was not favorable for Vicky, however it was so worth the attempt because now Jordon knows about his kidneys. John's dad was 29 years old when he found out he had only one working kidney, the other one had strunk and was dehydrated and not working. He has been living a great life with one working kidney, he just turned 70.
He was told not to do any combat sports and stop doing his karate and judo just in case he was hit or thrown on his good kidney side. No biggie My DH is a spectator when it comes to sports, he like to be on the sideline.
My sincere thanks for being wonderful friends.

Julie said...

Well done! Have you considered presenting some of this info - with Vicky's permission, of course - in your blog for the Anderson Independent? Maybe even do an article for the paper . . .

Rebecca said...

I learned more about kidneys this spring than I ever thought I would need or want to. In March, my son woke me in the night complaining about abdominal pain. He had a fever and he vomited upon standing. He was guarding his side. He barely moved in bed. I feared he had appendicitis, but by morning, the pain had dissipated. I took him to the pediatrician anyway who noted that he did still have tenderness. With a better safe than sorry attitude, she ordered a CT scan. With the exceptional health insurance provided by the Army, this was a no-brainer for me. We had the CT. His appendix was fine. His kidneys, however, were not.

Rebecca said...

They thought that he had a UPJ obstruction, which I later found is somewhat common in boys. This obstruction is similar to a kink in a hose. Urine doesn't drain well and will back up into the kidneys. When this happens, the kidneys swell which causes pain. This excess of fluid also disrupts the delicate balance of the filtration system and can damage the kidney. We were sent to a pediatric urologist. He was very reassuring, telling us that they would do a renal function test and if it was a UPJ, they could do a simple surgical procedure to fix it and he would be good as new. They scheduled the test, and I have to say, I have a new respect for any mother whose child has a chronic disease. Just a few moments of seeing my child in pain and knowing I could do nothing to prevent it, that I actually had to encourage it because it was how to tell how sick he was, was the most gut-wrenching helpless feeling I have ever had.

Rebecca said...

Anyway -- the results of the scan were that his left kidney was atrophed and it was only functioning at 27%. They did not locate a blockage. They decided to do a baseline ultrasound, which showed moderate hydronephrosis in the left kidney. Now, we have to wait 9 months and repeat the renal scan to see if there is additional damage. If there is, they will do more intensive testing to find the blockage. If there is not, they will just consider a blockage from the past caused the damage and is now gone. In the meantime, my perfectly healthy looking son is running around with one functional kidney. Apparently, a lot of us do that and never eve know it.