Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Would You Be Willing to Sacrifice That?

I would love to be able to blog more often. I really enjoy writing, and I enjoy the conversation that it provides (both through the blog and through personal contact). However, I'm usually consumed with writing on a weekly basis. Between writing a weekly sermon, writing for the weekly Men's Fraternity, and working with the elders on amending the church's constitution, my writing "well" is usually dry by the end of each week. However, I'm not preaching for the next two weeks (thanks, Jesse!), so I hope to have some time over these next two weeks to allow you to witness something with me that I think is quite incredible.

My brother-in-law (Michelle's brother, Michael) is set this week to donate one of his kidneys to his father-in-law (his wife's dad, Howie). Howie has already received a donated kidney several years ago, but it's been slowly failing over the past couple of years. If he doesn't receive a healthy kidney soon, he will die. Howie's two children were tested to see if they were a match. His son is not, and his daughter (Michael's wife, Heidi) is, but she had some complications during her latest pregnancy that eliminated her from being a donor. On a whim, Michael decided to get tested, and amazingly, it was discovered that he's a match.

I don't know the process that Michael went through internally that led to his decision to offer his kidney to Howie, but I'm sure it was a struggle. Last night, Michelle and I talked about who we would be willing to give a kidney to, and both of us decided that it was a no-brainer that we would be willing to give one to one another or to one of our children. However, we both let out a nervous laugh when we considered the prospect of giving a kidney to one of our in-laws! We love our in-laws, but we both decided that it would be a tough decision on whether or not to give a kidney to one of them. Simply put, the fact that Michael is willing to go through the excruciating pain and is willing to deal with the on-going health risks of living with one kidney is pretty amazing.

Michael has been following Christ for about three years, so I'm sure that his relationship with the Lord factored in to his decision. I wonder if I would be willing to obey the Lord if He asked me to give a kidney to my father-in-law. I would certainly hope so, but I can honestly say that it would be a hard decision to make.

The transplant was supposed to take place today, but the doctors have decided to postpone it until tomorrow or Thursday. On Saturday, I'm flying out to Connecticut to be with Michael, Heidi, and their three kids. I figure if Michael can sacrifice a kidney, I can sacrifice a week of my time to serve his family while he's recovering.

Please pray for Michael and Howie. Pray for a safe transplant to take place, and pray that both men will recover without complications. The donor usually has a rougher road to recovery, so please pray especially for Michael. Also, pray for me, that I would be a blessing and a true help to Michael's family while I'm there.

Check back often over the next two weeks as I hope to share more about this incredible act of generosity and sacrifice.


Mike Potter said...

UPDATE: Here's an email I just received from Michael's wife, Heidi, just a few minutes ago:

I don't even know where to begin. Mike has this disease in his arteries so the transplant will not be happening. Mike can not be a donor. His condition will need to be watched very closely for the rest of his life. As far as my dad he will be in the hospital for another 3-5 days. He is I think hanging in. I have no words to describe how my dad & Mike are feeling at this time. All I know is that Mike is devastated & very upset. I know things happen for a reason but it doesn't make things ANY easier.

I will NOT be going to Connecticut this weekend after all. Please pray for Michael and Heidi. Please also pray for Howie as this leaves him very sick with failing kidneys.

Mike Matheny said...

What I have is a mild case of FMD (fibromuscular displasia), you can google the exact definition, but its basically a weaking of the (in my case) renal artery vein leading from the heart to my right kidney. My surgeon said it was the persistence of Dr. Ollin the head of radiology at Mt. Sinai that they discovered it. I guess he's the worlds renowned leader in the disease. The good news is that I have no symptons (which is high blood pressure). So there is nothing to treat, but if there was, they do a procedure where they "blow up" the vein and this is sucessfull 90% of the time. If that doesn't work they install a stint which is 100% successfull. Plus, I only have a mild case and its only on the right, none on the left. So, only yearly check ups with a regular doctor is recommended.
How it all played out was I had an ultrasound and an MRA (not an MRI), last Tuesday to check inside. Then we were scheduled to meet with the surgeons on Thursday. They had just got the results back from Tuesday's test on Thursday and said they were inconclusive, so I needed to fast and come back for another ultrasound, before the scheduled surgery on Tuesday. I did so on Monday morning, before I picked up mom, dad, and aunt Linda from the airport. The results were still not in at 4 pm, but around 6:30 I got a call from my surgeon and he said the last test was also inconclusive and they wanted to do an angiogram. He said this couldn't happen until maybe Thur., I tried to tell him we were all planning for this week but he said they were all booked up and its best to wait. Then Heidi gets on the phone and uses her gift of persuasion, (please pray with me that her eyes are opened, so it will be used for the Gospel) and convinces him to schedule the angiogram for Tue. and with good results surgery for Wed. or Thur., so at this point we were still hopefull. Only 4% of the population has FMD and its more common in middle aged women. So, dad and I went to the city Tue. and had the test around 1pm and we were told the results around 3:30. A huge let down after starting this whole procedure actually at the end of November with blood tests and such. Plus, I knew Howie had been upstairs in his room since Sunday afternoon coming off his medicines and being stabilized ready for the surgery. Now he's hoping to get out today or Saturday becuase they have to re-introduce all his medications and get him stabalized. So he's by far the one that has gone thru the worst. Howie has been a great father-in-law the last 9 years and is an extremely loving, giving and caring person who has had very bad health problems. He only has one (his other 2 stopped working completely) funtioning kidney (which is at 11%) and that's his sisters that she donated 15 years ago.
Meanwhile, Heidi spoke to my surgeon about her donation again. She had previously been ruled out because she had gestational diabetes with our last child. I guess they've already spoken to her genecologist and it was a very mild case so thats what were hoping for know.
As I had been thinking (due to everyone telling me, that I was doing something very special) the surgeon I first met on Thursday re-iterated. Then proceded to tell me that they have some people that come in and don't know anyone who needs a kidney but still would like to donate!! This brought me back to earth pretty quick. Who would be wiling to sacrifice for a complete stranger? This leads me to scripture which says while we were yet sinners, he sacrificed for us. I think we all make sacrifices for our families (children especially,if you have them), but how many us can honestly say we sacrifce for complete strangers. I know I could defintely do more.

Thank you for your concerns and prayers,