Today it has been 12 years since Cynthia received her Kidney Transplant.
At the Learning & Families graduation this year, the commencement speaker Jim Van Eerden said that all of us should tell our story, and tell it again. So I am going to tell the story again. I am amazed at all the miracles that happened and to see God’s hand in all of this.
We discovered that there were some problems with Cynthia’s kidney function right before we got married. It was not a big deal at the time but the Doctors wanted to keep an eye on it. When Ashley was born in 1993 Cynthia’s kidney function started to decline to the point the Doctor was concerned. Right after Ashley was born the kidney function came back.
When Cynthia was pregnant with Matthew in 1997 her kidney function started to decline again. The Doctor was very concerned, but thought that it would likely come back after the birth like before. Matthew was born on December 17, 1997. The kidney function did not come back. In fact it got worse; her creatinine level in her blood work was at 10. This is extremely high. Cynthia should have felt bad and have grey skin tone, but that did not happen. She felt fine and her skin looked healthy, it shocked the Doctors. They took her into surgery to get a shunt in her chest, for immediate dialyses, and a fistula in her arm for ongoing dialyses. After that she did not feel good. On December 23, 1997 (which is Cynthia’s birthday) Cynthia had her first dialyses treatment. She says that was her worst birthday ever. It is so hard to watch someone you love go through something like this and feel so helpless to do anything for them.
Cynthia struggled through hemodialysis for a few months before getting a tube placed in here peritoneal cavity for peritoneal dialyses. She changed dialysis solution 4 times a day every day and then went to hooking up to a machine to change to solution at night for 8 hours, every night. During this time she got put on the transplant list. We really did not know too much about the process or what to expect. We received a call to come up to Tampa for the transplant 2 weeks after being put on the list. They had a kidney with a very low antigen match, which is good. The kidney came from a 60 year old male (not that good). We get to Tampa General and go through the process of some final testing. After a few hours Lifelink came in to tell us that the kidney was diseased. When it left it was fine, when they checked it out in Tampa it was diseased. I think God has something better. They sent us home and back on the list.
Ashley was in kindergarten and was just about to finish the school year. Cynthia was a room Mom and was helping out with end of the year parties. We get another call from Lifelink in the middle of the night telling us that they have a kidney. We were a little smarter this time and knew what to expect and what they were looking for. When they told us to come they said that the kidney had a 6 antigen match (Not Good). They will only transplant up to a 7 antigen match. This would mean that Cynthia would have to be on a lot more anti-rejection meds. Cynthia called Donna Kutinsky (a very good Friend and Pastors wife), she asked Cynthia how she felt about it. Cynthia told her that she does not feel good about it. Donna told her to go up there and God would meet her there. We made our way up to Tampa General and checked in. They started doing the test and took Cynthia’s temperature. She had a fever. Cynthia, being bold, said “I do not, check it again”. She had a fever and they won’t do the transplant. They told us to go directly to your Doctor and get some antibiotics because she has an infection, do blood work because she has Peritonitis. We drove back to Sarasota and to the Doctor’s office. They have already received the call about the infection. Cynthia walked in the office and the Nurse looked at her and said you don’t have a fever. They checked no fever. They checked the peritoneal fluid, no infection. It was not what God wanted.
On Friday June 4, 1999 a few weeks after school was out Cynthia and I finally had some time to go out. We were having a great evening. We went to the dollar theater to see a movie, October Sky. We were sitting in the movie and my phone starts vibrating. It is a Tampa number which I promptly ignored; I was out with my wife. I was doing work in Tampa so I assumed it was a call about work. A few minutes later my phone vibrates again, ignore again. Again my phone rings, this time it is a call from home. My parents were watching the kids at our house. I go out and call them back; My Mom said that Lifelink was trying to get a hold of us. I go back into the theater and get Cynthia. We walk out of the movie and get in the car. Cynthia calls Lifelink right away. They told her that the match is prefect across the board (VERY GOOD). It is from an 18 year old male from Philadelphia (Sad, but good for a transplant). We go back to Tampa General and check in. Cynthia goes through all the tests again, and then we wait. We wait some more. They tell us that they have to transplant the kidney within 36 hours after it has been harvested. We wait all Saturday. They came in and told us that the kidney had arrived and we wait some more. All this time the Nurses that come in tell us that this is the best match that they have seen in years! Sunday morning the Doctor that will be doing the Transplant comes in to talk to us. He is very encouraging. I boldly asked him if we can pray with him before he leaves, he said it would be fine. Cynthia, the Doctor and I join hand and I pray that God guides is hands and that the operation goes smoothly and that the kidney starts functioning as soon as it is connected. After the prayer the Doctor was quick to say that the kidney would probably not start working for 2 weeks and Cynthia would still have to be on dialysis during that time.
Cynthia was taken to surgery on Sunday and the transplant was done 32 hours after it was harvested. When she was brought back up to the room the Doctor said that everything went fine. The next morning the Doctor was making his rounds with some medical student. Our door was open so I heard it all. He pulled out the chart and said “this one is a MIRACLE (he really said Miracle, Really) It was a perfect match across the board. She won the lottery on this one. It is a 1 in a million chance for a match this good. You only get this good of match from a living related donor. As soon as I plugged it in it started producing urine. I had a hard time making some of the connections because it started working so quickly.” God is so Good!!!!!! Trust in him for his perfect will for you!!
Cynthia was released from the hospital 4 days later. That tied the record for Tampa General at the time. They told us that transplant patients have a bout of rejection that they will have to deal with. To this day, 12 years later, she has not had any signs of rejection. In fact here blood work last month has some great numbers, a creatinine level of 1.
We read a book about transplants and how to explain it to kids. It said that we should name the kidney so we did. Lilybet, which is short for “Little Bit of Heaven”. Today Lilybet is 12 years old.
If you come to our house today, you would find a memorial box on the wall. In it there is a picture of Cynthia’s Mother who passed away on June 18, 1999 12 days after Cynthia’s transplant , a peritoneal dialysis tube, an ultra sound image of Lilybet, and an envelope from Lifelink with a letter from a Mother who lost her son telling us about her son and that she understands that even in death he helped so many people live on, and a picture of an 18 year old young man. This is a reminder of the story. Memorials are good and we should have them from remembrance, we should also make memories by celebrating the ones we love today.
I have such a wonderful wife that was so strong through all this and always full of Joy. Because of what she went through and just because she really love to celebrate people, She wrote a book “The Ultimate Gift of a Birthday” based off of Ashley’s 16th birthday party which was inspired by the movie “The Ultimate Gift”. The book is available on Amazon and by contacting Cynthia or I. She also has a Blog about celebrating others on her website cynthiaschrock.com. As Ferris Bueller says “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it”. Don’t miss it; take time to celebrate the ones you love. I know that this is something that I need to continue to work on.
“Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
All Mothers and all Daughters!! Because All women are and were either a mother or a daughter.
We are so excited to be pouring into this new adventure. Ashley and I have always had a heart for mom’s and their daughters. Her Heritage has turned into so much more than just limiting it to Mom’s with daughters. We are going to include stories for all mom’s and all daughters. Some mom’s only have sons and not all daughters have mother’s. We want to be a blessing to all mother’s and all daughters. If you were wondering if you should share this with your friends who only have son’s the answer is YES!!!!. If you were wondering if you should share this with your friends who don’t have mothers the answer is YES!!!! And as you know definitely share this with all your friends who are mothers and daughters together.