Monday, March 26, 2012

The Kidney Donation Story - Cliff Notes Version

It has come to our attention that some people haven’t heard the whole story, so I am going to give the whole story in a type of cliff notes version, and I am going to do it with bullets so I hope you can follow along.

1.       I met both Ashley and Kate at the same time almost 5 years ago when we all signed up for a Mission Trip to Peru through Christ Fellowship – Cityplace Campus.  We actually met in the team meetings before we went to Peru, but our friendship was not formed until we were in Peru.

2.       Our last night in Lima Kate, Ashley, Stephen, and I went back out after everyone else went to bed.  Ashley and I ended up spending the night in the lobby of the hotel, we talked about everything and that is when I learned eventually she would need a kidney, I told her then she could have mine.  I’m not claiming to be able to predict that it was going to happen but I know God has plans that are much bigger than I can possibly understand.

3.       Kate and I began dating the Tuesday after we got back from Peru, we both had to end relationships with other people first (there wasn’t even a Kiss until we ended those relationships for those of you with dirty minds).  This is important because without Kate and I getting Married Ashley and I might not have remained in contact.

4.       Kate and I took 2 trips with Ashley in the first year of our dating relationship, one to Charleston and one to where they went to college in Catawba.

5.       Kate and I got engaged the day after our second trip to Peru the following year.  That is right we have gone back to Peru every summer since for 4 years and led a group of people from Cityplace to the Jungles of Peru.

6.       Kate and I were married in January of 2009, Ashley was a bridesmaid in the wedding and came down to West Palm to Share the day with us.

7.       In August of 2010 Kate and I took a monster road trip through, Louisville, Niagara Falls, Skaneatles NY,  my grandmother’s house in New Jersey, and lastly to UNC Chapel Hill where Ashley was in the hospital. 

8.       While visiting Ashley she told us that she was in renal failure (her kidney’s weren’t working). 

9.       When we left the hospital we made it two blocks before I had to pull over to comfort Kate and stop the crying.

10.   Kate told me she was going to donate her kidney to Ashley.  I knew she was going to say that, we had talked about it before, but I knew in my mind that it was a better option for me to donate; I will list our reasons below.  So on the drive home I think I mostly convinced Kate I would be the donor, but we talked about it for a while after.

a.       We want to have children and we don’t want to put Kate’s body through an organ donation and then pregnancy.

b.      I would be paid during my time off, and Kate runs her own business and wouldn’t.

c.       We didn’t talk about this before, but Kate was a much better nurse than I would have been.

d.      Since Kate works from home she would be there to help me during recovery.

e.      There were a couple more but I am drawing a blank.

11.   We actually asked UNC if we could both be tested as a match, they said only one person at a time and that is when we officially decided I would be the first of us to take a shot at being a donor.

12.   I had my blood drawn in Florida, shipped it FedEx to UNC even though the label said no bodily fluids, and I was confirmed as a blood match in October of 2010. 

13.   When we first started this process we though the donation would happen in January of 2011, then maybe summer of 2012, we were told we would be able to plan it out when it was convenient because Ashley wasn’t in immediate need, and we were ahead of the curve, just keep that in mind.

14.   June 2011 Kate and I traveled to UNC for further testing to confirm that I was healthy enough to be a kidney donor. They run 3 days of tests, draw more blood than you think you have, and have you meet with more doctors than you ever have including a psychologist, and a social worker.

15.   The results were that I had low iron levels, and a Splenomegaly (enlarged spleen).

16.   We left UNC not knowing if I would be able to donate, and what the next step would be.

17.   When we got back to Florida I had to meet with a hematologist to find out why my iron was low and what was going on with my spleen.

a.       It was determined my spleen was not enlarged but misshapen, so that wouldn’t be a problem.

b.      It also was determined that my iron levels were low because of donating blood too much and eating a poor diet over the prior 6 months.  They weren’t a hundred percent sure so I would still be required to get a colonoscopy and endoscopy.

18.   At this point when we were about to schedule those procedures Ashley called us to let us know here insurance was declining to cover the procedure.  They said her quality of life was not worth the costs of the surgery.  This meant several things.

a.       She was going to have to fight the Insurance Company in court to cover the surgery.

b.      If they didn’t cover the surgery she was going to need to raise $175,000, when already she needed to raise $50,000.

c.       That the surgery was not going to happen in August 2011.

19.   In Early December of 2010 Ashley called us to tell us that 2 days before her case was scheduled to go in front of a Judge that the insurance had dropped their case and was going to cover the surgery.

20.   We were super excited, but I still had to have the colonoscopy and endoscopy, so that was scheduled for December 21st.

a.       Side note, my doctor who performed these procedures, waived all my co-pays and wrote off $140 dollars of the surgery for us.  How awesome was that.

b.      The results were good I did not have an internal bleed and I was going to be able to donate.

21.   Late in December we were told the surgery was going to be scheduled for February 7th.

a.       Did I mention that it wasn’t a hundred percent confirmed?

22.   I told work on January 6th because I needed to give 30 days’ notice, even though I wasn’t sure it was going to happen on the 7th but I needed to be safe.

a.       Work was great about it, we weren’t freaking out but we weren’t sure how they would take it me being gone for 4 to 6 weeks, but they were supportive and very helpful the whole time.

23.   Then UNC called and said the nephrologist I met with at UNC had consulted on Ashley’s case, this was a problem because by law I had to meet with an independent Nephrologist (kidney doctor), so we would need to schedule an appointment in Florida with a Nephrologist.

24.   January 21st I met with my Nephrologist in Florida, which was a Friday, and on that Monday he sent the paperwork back to UNC saying I was approved to be a donor.

25.   At this point the donation was backed up to Feb 14th, Valentine’s day. 

26.   UNC had to submit me to Ashley’s Insurance at this point, since they had approved her for a cadaver donor.  By law they have 15 days to respond to this, and they took their sweet time.

a.       We aren’t sure when it was submitted by UNC but they told us the insurance had until Feb. 15th to respond.

b.      This meant the surgery was going to be pushed to Feb. 21st

c.       This is when we found out that we would have to be at UNC on Feb. 16th for pre-op.  Even though we wouldn’t know if we were approved until Feb. 15th.

27.   Insurance approved us on Feb 13th.  So we were able to pack and be at UNC by the 16th.

28.   Pre-op went great no hiccups.

29.   Ashley was admitted to the hospital Saturday before the surgery just for safe keeping and precautions.

30.   On February 21st 3 days after my birthday, almost 5 years after I met Ashley and Kate and 17 months after we decided to donate my kidney to Ashley, I woke up went to the hospital and ended the day with one less kidney than I woke up with.

31.   It was an incredibly long journey with so many ups and downs along the way, but it was totally worth it.  I don’t think I would change one thing, it has strengthened my faith in God, strengthened my marriage and impacted more people than Kate, Ashley and I could have ever imagined.  To quote Ashley loosely cause I didn’t write this down and someone else told me she said it, “When I started this, I thought it was about me, I needed a kidney, I was getting a kidney, but it turned out to be about so much more than me, I was just a little part”.

32.   Lastly none of this could have happened and turned out so well without the prayers and support of so many people, thank you so much, Kate and I will never be able to thank you all appropriately but when you know you have the Family of God behind you that it is going to work out. 

33.   We have heard story’s of people that we have never met praying for us and our story impacting people that we would have never had a chance to otherwise even meet.  How cool is that, and it is definitely a God thing.  

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