We found out this week that Mark matched the potential donor!!! The Transplant Team has scheduled Mark's third kidney transplant for January 31, 2012!!! Rather than participating in a "paired exchange" in which my mother (i.e. Donor 1) would donate to a person in need of a kidney (i.e. Recipient 1) and Mark (i.e. Recipient 2) would receive a kidney from an individual (i.e. Donor 2) donating on behalf of mom's recipient as we had thought, Mark will be a participant in a "chained transplant." Chained transplants involve more than 2 donors and 2 recipients. In other words, several transplants occur in a "chain-like" or "domino effect." Chained transplants can occur across medical facilities and networks. Mark will actually be receiving a kidney from a donor in Georgia who was listed in a different "network" or "database." Mark's donor is donating as her loved one recently received a kidney from a different donor in the "chain". My mom will donate her kidney to expand the "chain" by giving to another patient in need. Although Mom's kidney won't be given to Mark, her gift enables Mark to participate in the chained transplant. As we have mentioned in prior posts, transplantation from a cadaver isn't really an option for Mark. Given Mark's history of rejecting kidneys, Mark needs plasmapheresis treatments prior to a kidney being placed in his body to decrease the likelihood of rejection. These treatments are scheduled the week prior to transplant and require the placement of a "deep line." The treatments take several hours as your blood is pumped out and cleansed of the antibodies found in plasma (i.e. the watery part of blood) that trigger immune response (i.e. rejection). Because of the time constraints of receiving a kidney from a cadaver (i.e. the kidney must be transplanted usually within 24 hours) and Mark's need for the treatments, Mark has to receive a kidney from a living donor. As we have also mentioned, Mark does not match any of the people (his Mom, his cousin-Jamaica, my brother, my Mom, my Mom's friend) who have wanted to donate to him. Thus, our only opportunity for a transplant is through a paired or chained transplant. My Mom's selflessness in donating to someone she does not know and probably will never meet is providing Mark with an opportunity to have his health restored.
This week has been filled with feelings of excitement, joy, thankfulness, fear, and anxiety. The prospect of receiving a successful transplant is amazing. The joy that would come from seeing Mark's health restored and seeing him enjoy the freedom from no longer relying on dialysis to sustain his life is almost unimaginable. At the same time we are hopeful, we are fearful. In many ways, we have compartmentalized and suppressed all of the bad memories surrounding our transplant experiences. The fears and anxieties we possess about the transplant are almost uncountable. As we approach the third transplant, those fears are becoming less of a memory and more of a reality. At the same time we are hopeful and fearful, we are thankful. It is amazing to think that the woman who gave me life is now giving part of herself to give life to my husband. The gratitude we have for my Mom's willingness to help Mark is almost indescribable. How amazing it is to think about how God has worked to join Mom, Mark, and all of the other donors and recipients across several medical facilities over several months in the same chained transplant. Reflecting upon the fact that God joined mine and Mark's hearts in love before we ever realized the impact my mother would on his health is also amazing. God's ability to work so intricately and powerfully across time and circumstances with so many people is truly unfathomable.
1 John 3:1-"How great is the love our Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God"-has a new meaning to our
family. Once again, we are amazed how our God can use the most difficult of situations to allow us to know and understand His love in new
and deeper ways. As always, please lift our family and the other families in the chain in your prayers! We will update the blog as we learn more about the transplant!