I hope everyone has enjoyed a blessed holiday season. The Christmas season seems to be such a magical time of year...especially in the eyes of a 3 year old boy. Our family enjoyed a wonderful holiday season. Highlights of our holidays included watching Mark Thomas as a wise man and our nephew, Landon, as Baby Jesus in our church play, seeing Mark Thomas' excitement opening his gifts (especially his new cowboy boots and Thomas the train toys), and a beautiful "white Christmas" as southeastern Kentucky received about 6.5 inches of beautiful snow!
As many of you know, the husband of one of my mother's college friends, Mr. Powell, expressed interest in donating his kidney to Mark. Over the past several weeks, we have been anxiously awaiting the results of the tissue typing test Hopkins completed with Mark and Mr. Powell. We were hopeful that Mr. Powell would be a potential donor as he has type O blood. However, we recently learned that Mr. Powell was not deemed a potential donor. While Mark and I have been trying to prepare ourselves for this news, it is hard not to feel a great deal of disappointment. I keep trying to tell myself to focus on how amazing it is that someone we don't know well was willing to help Mark. Despite the outcome of the testing, Mr. Powell's selflessness and willingness to help truly was a remarkable holiday gift.
Tomorrow morning Mark and I are leaving for DC and Baltimore. Mark is scheduled to meet with the Transplant Team at Hopkins on Wednesday. Because none of Mark's potential donors have matched, we will proceed with the paired transplant program. All of Mark's potential donors (his mother, my mother, his cousin Jamacia, and Mr. Powell) have wanted to participate in the paired transplant program in an effort to help Mark. In the paired transplant program, one of Mark's donors would donate his or her kidney to a stranger and the stranger's donor would donate a kidney to Mark. At present, Mark must complete several different types of testing in order to be deemed healthy enough to receive another transplant. In addition, his donor will complete testing in order to be deemed healthy enough to give a kidney. After the testing is complete, Mark will then be entered into a database in hopes that a match can be found. It remains uncertain if a match for Mark will be found in the paired transplant program. He may wait for a short period of time, may wait for several years, or a match may not be found at all. In the past, Hopkins maintained their own database of patients interested in a paired donation. However, it is our understanding that as of the end of last year, UNOS (Universal Network of Organ Sharing) has consolidated databases to allow for paired donations across the nation with multiple transplant facilities. (see link at http://www.unos.org/about/index.php?topic=newsroom&article_id=2646:45dc3b2bc18bc5bbc85a467639b37d22). While we are eager to go to Hopkins and have Mark deemed eligible for participation in a paired donation, we are trying to remain cautiously optimistic realizing that a third transplant may or may not happen. Ultimately, we are attempting not rely on ourselves (or an impressive transplant facility), but to place our trust in God and his perfect plan for our lives. This, of course, is a constant struggle. Please pray that we will travel safely, that the trip will be productive, and that we will enjoy DC (Mark has never been to Washington)! Most importantly, please pray that we will have the correct frame of mind and spirit as we continue on this journey!