Monday, December 29, 2008

Appointment Scheduled for January 2nd

Mark and I hope that everyone enjoyed a wonderful Christmas holiday. We were blessed with a happy, but busy holiday season which has impacted my ability to set aside time to post updates with respect to the transplant! I am scheduled to visit the Transplant Team at UK on Friday-January 2nd. I will complete (and hopefully pass) 3 tests: EKG, ultrasound, and X-ray. It is my understanding that if I am successful in passing these tests, I will have to visit the Transplant Clinic at least 3 more times for additional testing before I am deemed "the donor" and the transplant is scheduled. So, needless to say, we are trying to be patient and positive! I am fearful of getting my hopes up about being the donor and then finding out that I am ruled out. It is sometimes frustrating to think that even after Friday we still won't know for sure if I am selected as the donor. But, when I reflect upon how smoothly things have gone thus far, I can't help but be thankful for how God has worked in our lives. We have read about other transplant patients who have waited years to get to the point where we are now. We keep reminding each other that God is in control of this situation and will guide the Transplant Team to His choice for the donor. I really can't express how badly I want to be selected as the donor, but ultimately I want God's will to be done (even if it doesn't match my personal thoughts of what would be best for my family). As always, thanks to everyone for your thoughts and prayers. I understand it is difficult to know what to say in times like this, but please know that your words of encouragement are greatly appreciated and mean so much to us.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Testing is scheduled to continue

Mark and I spoke with the Living Donor Nurse Coordinator yesterday and she agrees with our decision that I should proceed with testing!!!!!! I was so relieved to hear her say that she thought I'd be a good candidate to continue with the testing. She is a little "hard to read" at times. I was fearful that she would disagree with our decision.

I had hoped to complete the testing sometime over my Christmas break. While she said it would be nearly impossible to schedule the testing for next week, she thought January 2nd was a possibility. So, we're keeping our fingers crossed that January 2nd will work out due to the fact that I won't have to use any of my remaining sick days to travel to Lexington on the 2nd. I'm not exactly sure what testing UK requires for potential donors. We've read that other clinics require an EKG, ultrasound of the abdomen, stress test, x-ray, 24 hour urinalysis, and additional blood work. Some clinics also require a renal angiogram (a test that involves use of a dye in the blood stream to examine the kidney). I'm just so excited about the prospect of donating that I'm really not concerned about the testing. I just hope that I can "pass" all of the tests. If not, I could be ruled out as a donor and another of the top three donors would then continue with the same testing.

As always, please continue praying for us. Thank you for the thoughtful emails, comments, and cards. We especially want to thank all of the people from Gardendale's First Baptist Church for their cards and emails. It means so much to us that Roy and Kelly have such thoughtful people in their lives.

Friday, December 12, 2008

An Early Christmas Gift: All Negative Crossmatches!

Today we received wonderful news from the transplant team! All three potential donors were "negative crossmatches!" In other words, the results of the blood work completed on Monday indicated that Justin, Carma, or I could serve as a donor for Mark. At this point, only one donor will proceed with the additional testing that is required to determine if he or she is healthy enough to donate. The transplant team has asked Mark and I to think about who we think should donate and respond to them with our choice on Monday. At that point, they go over the results of the testing and our input to decide who they think should continue with the testing.

It is an easy decision for me...I really think that I should be the donor! I am actually really excited about the prospect of giving my husband a kidney. I have spent a great deal of time thinking and praying about the situation and honestly have a very peaceful and good feeling. I have felt like I would be the donor for several weeks. I don't have any reservations at all about donating. Mark and I are blessed with a wonderful family who could help us during recovery and could help with caring for Mark Thomas.

While I can't express my gratitude to Carma and Justin for their willingness to help, I do not want to involve either one of them in the process if I am able to donate. As a mother, I just can't consider putting another mother's son or another family's mother in jeopardy. Carma, Justin, and all of the other loved ones who have offered to donate have taught us an unbelievable lesson about fearlessly trusting God and unselfishly giving to others.

We are continuing to pray for God's guidance and want to praise Him for this wonderful news!!!!!!! Hopefully, the transplant team will agree with our choice and I can complete the additional testing over the holiday break.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Testing of Three Potential Donors is complete!

Today we visited UK's transplant clinic for testing of top three potential candidates. Justin, Carma, and I completed lab work and met with the living donor nurse coordinator separately and as a group. The nurse was very kind. She informed us of the risks involved with donating. She also told us that we should know by the end of the week or beginning of next week if one or more of us is not ruled out and eligible to continue with the testing.

I had asked her if we would have any input into who was chosen as the donor if all three candidates were equally compatible with Mark's blood and tissue type. I may be thinking too far ahead, but I was happy to know that we will have some input into the decision making process.

We also found out that if one of us is selected as the donor, the surgery will probably occur in late January or early February. I guess there is still a great deal of testing to be conducted with the donor and with Mark.

Although today's visit was not as lengthy and involved as past visits, it was emotional and an unique experience to say the least. We see Mark's Aunt Carma and her husband-Mike-quite often when they visit Harlan. But, seeing them walk into the clinic created a different feeling. Since I've known Mark, I've always admired Carma's loving and gentle spirit. She has a way of making you feel at home and comfortable. She did the same today.

I can't express how it felt to meet Justin. When he walked into the clinic, I almost cried. I can't imagine being 18 years old and willing to donate a kidney to someone I barely know. He is such an amazing young man. His compassion and kindness is both admirable and amazing. I am honestly in awe of his thoughtfulness for others. My prayer is that one day Mark Thomas will grow to be as compassionate and kind as Justin.

Please keep praying for us! We will find out soon if one of us can donate to Mark!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Words of Encouragement

Mark and I have really been encouraged by several sermons, scripture, and songs we've heard recently. We are really enjoying our new pastor, Brandon Pugh. His recent sermons have really been applicable to our life. These messages-along with other scriptures-have served as a source of encouragement for us. Like I mentioned above, several songs have also helped lift our spirits in this difficult time. In fact, I told Mark last night that two songs in particular could be our "theme songs" for life right now. I wanted to pass the encouragement on to you:

Brandon's Sermon
Two weeks ago, Brandon was preaching on the reasons why Christians face trials and afflictions. His sermon came from Proverbs. I'm not too good at remembering every scripture that supported the message, but I do know the "take home message" or main point. Brandon used scripture to provide several reasons why Christians are afflicted. He mentioned that God often uses hardships to bring His children closer to Him. So, given that trials are used to draw you closer to God, Brandon challenged us to think about the affliction itself as an "act of love from God" or a gift. He challenged us to be thankful for the trial. So....we are now attempting to assume this attitude! We are trying (though not successful at every moment) to be thankful for Mark's kidney situation. We have talked about how there are several things to be thankful for related to his health (i.e. he has no other health problems that would jeopardize his candidacy for transplantation, we have good insurance and jobs, God has blessed us with a strong marriage, etc.) We remain firm in the belief that God's plan for our lives is a perfect and good plan.

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
This has always been a favorite verse. Roy shared it with me when I was in his youth group. Mom reminded me of it several weeks ago. It continues to offer encouragement to our family.

Our Theme Songs
There is no way that I can verbalize the meaning of the two songs we've labeled as our "theme songs." are the links videos on YouTube. Hope you enjoy!
"While I'm Waiting" by John Waller:
"Praise You in the Storm" by Casting Crowns:

Please pray for us on Monday as three potential donors are tested at UK!