Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Murky Waters In A Clear Stream - Part One

Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible. Faith begins where man's power ends.   
George Mueller

Organ transplantation hit a new milestone recently. A kidney which was transplanted into one young man, but after a week or so became evident the kidney was not going to "take." Instead of dumping the ill-destined kidney into biohazard wasteland as had always been done, the very sick patient and his sister (the donor of the kidney) asked if the kidney could be recycled.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

Kidney disease treatments and new developments in kidney transplantation are very intriguing to me. For you see, my baby brother was diagnosed with nephritis when he was 13 years old. Twenty-seven years later and two kidney transplants (one donated from our mother), Eddie passed away from medical complications. But he was able to live some quality years because of transplants, medicines, and dialysis.

In my second missionary memoir, In Every Place, I write about a time while we were missionaries in Jamaica when Eddie asked me to consider donating a kidney.

Read an excerpt below or visit my website to find out more about my missionary memoirs.


Plodding Through Some Murky Waters (from In Every Place)
        After our second Christmas in Jamaica, I received a call from my brother, Eddie, who was physically declining quickly and would soon be in need of another kidney transplant. He had been fighting a terminal kidney disease since he was thirteen, and when he was fifteen, my mother gave him one of her kidneys. Because of the nature of the disease and how it traveled destructively through the blood stream, it was inevitable the disease would, at some point, destroy the transplanted kidney. True to its prognosis, in late 1985, just a few weeks before we were to leave for Liberia for the first time, he received a second kidney from a deceased donor. It had served Eddie well until just a couple months prior to his call to me in January, 1994. 

        Back in 1976 when we knew Eddie would need his first transplant, I had just graduated from high school and was ready to start college. The summer before my freshman year, my mother, father, and I went to Duke University Hospital to be typed as potential kidney donors for Eddie. There were several complicated tests to determine whether a person was a good match or not. I matched my brother perfectly in five out of six of the necessary prototypes. My mother matched four of them and my father less than that. Since I was not a mother at the time of the testing, I could not understand how my mother rejected my willingness to give my brother one of my kidneys. I wanted to do that for him so desperately, but my parents were adamant.

        Now, after being a parent for more than twenty-five years, I completely understand and would have done the same thing. My mother gave her son a kidney. How well I remember that long six-hour surgery at Duke Medical Center. My father and I were surrounded by our pastor and a dozen of our closest friends, but I felt so alone. So afraid. Thankfully, they both recovered beautifully. In the ensuing years, I kept telling Eddie if he ever needed another kidney, I would be there for him. Partly joking, I said that I would be old enough to sign my own papers. 

        So, in January of 1994, when Eddie called asking me if I was still serious about giving him one of my kidneys, I lunged toward the affirmative but then stopped. I now had a family of my own and could not make this decision alone. I knew I needed to talk with Jeff and to Michelle, who was ten at the time. Though we did include Stefanie (age 7) and Lauren (3), I was not sure they would completely comprehend the situation. Receiving unanimous affirmation from them, I called Eddie and told him the good news. He then booked a flight back to the States for me. When I saw him, it seemed we would need to act quickly. He looked older, sicker than when I had last seen him. There was certain criteria for being able to receive a kidney, and when a person’s health deteriorated past a determined point, no medical facility would dare do a transplant surgery because it was extremely taxing on the entire body. Many people were praying for God’s will to be done in that situation. We asked for God to make it clear whether I was to give my brother a kidney or not. 

(Part Two of this story will be published on Friday, May 4)