As many of you know, my wife Alicia had a kidney transplant last week in Charlotte, North Carolina. I wanted to take a few minutes to brag on God and record some of the details that are nothing short of miraculous.
When Alicia was 12 weeks pregnant with Reagan she was diagnosed with a specific kidney disease called FSGS, or focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, which is hereditary. This disease was thought to only be passed on to males, so we were shocked to learn that Alicia had it. I have reported before that Alicia’s doctor thought that an abortion would be the best plan because the pregnancy would fast-forward the kidney disease, but we both have strong convictions against aborting a baby.
The fact that Alicia’s kidney function level stayed the same from the time she was diagnosed until the time she delivered (33% function) is a miracle in itself. But after Regan was born the disease began to pick up speed, and we began the process of getting approved for the transplant list.
A patient cannot get his name on a transplant list until he has declined to 20% function, and that day came for Alicia in April of 2011. She had already spent months going through orientation, testing, and dieting, so when her name went on the list she had done everything else she could do. Now we just needed to wait for a new organ, which we were told would take 3-5 years.
We had been given living donor screening packets to send out, but with the disease being hereditary, Alicia’s immediate family was ruled out. Next of kin make the best donors, so we didn’t expect to find a living donor. Just two weeks after being approved for the transplant list, we got a call that there was a match.
Sean Dietz, a man in our church, met the preliminary requirements (his wife Kelley was also tested but was not a match). He then went through months of testing to make sure he was healthy enough to donate and to live with just one kidney. In mid-August Sean was finally approved, and on September 13th his kidney was successfully transplanted into Alicia, whose kidneys were almost totally non-existent.
In most cases the patient will be on dialysis, which is a difficult procedure that does the work of the kidney for the body. A person on dialysis will have all the blood drained from his body, cleaned in a machine, and then funneled back into the body. There are several ways to do this, but each takes several hours and must be done several times each week. Alicia was told that she would probably start dialysis several times, but that day never came. She made it from December of 2008 to September of 2011 without having to go through dialysis, which was another miracle from the Lord.
As I mentioned, this disease is hereditary. Alicia’s father had his own transplant 10 years ago this November, and her father’s father received a transplant in 1969 during the early years of transplanting. Her grandfather’s body rejected the organ after 2 years, and he eventually succumbed to the disease. A generation later her father was able to undergo a much better process due to advances in the science. This generation’s advances helped to not only give Alicia a new kidney, but to also keep her off of dialysis. This incredible science is yet another testament of how great our God is. There is a 50-50 chance our daughter will have this same disease, but we know that our Lord will do what is right for her.
Alicia’s dad is a business manager for Frito Lay in the Dallas, Texas area. He has traveled occasionally, but rarely, for company training. The very day that we were told that the surgery was going to be scheduled, Alicia’s dad was told that he had to travel for training. Out of any city in the world where this training could have taken place, he was told to go to Charlotte, and was put in a hotel about 6 miles from the hospital where Alicia’s surgery would take place.
Obviously he would have been here for the transplant anyway, but this way his travel and hotel expenses were paid for by his company. And not being one to believe in coincidences, this was just an out of the blue reminder that every detail is in our sovereign God’s hands.
A surgery like this naturally comes with a high price tag, but we have been blessed beyond belief to be at such a great place like Philippi, and the insurance that they provide for me is incredible. And after Sean found out that he would miss 8 weeks of work without pay, the kind people of Philippi took up a special offering, during a recession, that would cover his lost wages.
I believe that this account preaches a wonderful sermon on who God is, and that the words of Matthew 6:33 are true: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all the things will be added unto you.”
Sean, the donor, is at home recovering, and Alicia’s kidney function is medically perfect.
I am from Orlando, Florida, and Alicia is from Dallas, Texas. The Lord moved us to Union, South Carolina, where He had prepared for us a perfect match, in more ways than one.
What a great God we serve!