It's hard to believe today is really here. Two years. Two very long years of waiting for a kidney for Jack. I have to admit that I really wondered if today would ever arrive. We've been through so many ups and downs on this adventure (if you really want to call it an adventure...), and we weren't sure where it would take us.
Jack's sisters either had the wrong type of blood or their own kidneys weren't healthy enough to be transplanted in someone else. We knew two of them couldn't donate for health reasons, but we had such high hopes that one of the three could. Each time we got so excited, only to have our hopes dashed by that one phone call from them telling us they were not accepted.
His children also offered to be tested. We flew his daughter Angie out and she spent a week with us while going through all the tests. She was so hopeful, as were we. We waiting all weekend long knowing that the transplant team would meet on Tuesday afternoon. Jack's hopes were so high. We just believed that she would be the perfect match.
Angie called late Tuesday afternoon in tears. She was turned down. The Mayo doctors told her she had the diabetes gene and they wouldn't take her kidney because she might need it someday. They also said that most likely all the kids had the same gene but if they wanted to be tested, they could go ahead and try.
Jack made the decision that he couldn't put himself or the kids through this again so he told them not to bother. It was too depressing for him. So at that point we made the decision that there was a kidney somewhere and God would bring us to it in His way.
That was two years ago. A little over a year ago Jack and I started looking for a new small group in our church. We had a conflict on the night our old group met so we decided to find one close to our home. Since Jack felt lousy most of the time, he didn't want to go too far from where we lived.
I had befriended a gal on Facebook, Christina, because she also goes to our church. I really liked her positive, uplifting status comments and we started an online friendship. When the church had it's Small Group Fair, I grabbed a catalog. When I saw that Christina and her husband led a small group near our home I got so excited. Then I saw it was a "marriage" small group. Exactly what we were looking for! So I asked Jack if he wanted to try it and he said yes. I emailed Christina and let her know we'd be there at the next meeting.
Immediately upon visiting the group, we knew we had found our new small group family. We loved the couples that attended and felt right at home.
During one of our meetings, George and Christina asked each person to share something about themselves that nobody else might know. We all went around the room and shared different things. Then it was Jack's turn.
Jack first shared that he wanted to get back into leading worship. He told the group how he'd given it up when he started getting sick, and his prayer was that someday he could get back to it.
Then, while he was talking, he said, "Now that I've got your attention...I also need a kidney. So if you know anyone that wants to donate, have them talk to me." We all laughed about it and then the next person in the group shared.
After the meeting, Christina asked him who to call at Mayo Clinic if one wanted to be tested. He gave her the information and thought nothing more of it. (Many people that we know have asked us for the information so that they could pass it on to others, so that was why we thought she asked, since she is a nurse.)
Several months went by and we never thought anything more about it. So I was quite surprised when Christina sent me a text to tell me she had started the procedure to be tested. Knowing how badly Jack handled it when his sisters were turned down, I decided not to say anything. I felt it was better to just wait. So I prayed God's will be done and left it at that.
A few weeks later I got another text from Christina. She told me she had passed all her tests and had one more to go, and that was the psychological test. She wasn't worried about it and felt pretty confident that she would be the donor. So I decided it was time to let Jack know what was going on.
A couple of weeks later we got word that she was a perfect match, but her liver enzymes were high. They wanted to run more tests. We again prayed God's will be done and not ours. It turns out that her liver was fine, but she needed to cut back on some of the nutritional supplements that she was taking. Shortly thereafter, the surgery date was set.
At small group Christina and George decided to put Jack and I in chairs and have the group pray over us. I looked at Christina and said, "I think you and Jack need to sit in the chairs and let us pray over you!" She agreed and they sat down while the rest of us gathered around and laid hands on them.
If I was to search the English vocabulary, I am certain I could not find the words to describe how I felt at that moment. They always say that in small group, we are family, but I never felt more like family than I did at that moment. And the thought of it gives me Godbumps just typing this!
Jack had to come to Mayo last week for final testing and thankfully he passed with flying colors. Sunday and Monday he had to go to dialysis so they could be sure and get all the toxins out of his body.
We got up at 3:00 this morning and arrived at Mayo at 5:00. They took him back to surgery around 8 this morning after finally getting the IV's (3 of them) in him. He has two in his neck and one in his foot. They had to be done with an ultrasound machine because he has such small, rolling veins.
And now I sit and wait. I have my daughter Connie and Christina's husband George sitting here with me. All three of us are on our laptops! (What did we do before internet???) Many, many prayers are being said on both of their behalves. It is so amazing that God has done this. The gift Christina and George have given us is incredibly awesome and there are truly no words to say that could express how utterly thankful we are to them.