Monday, May 4, 2015

Held Secure through Transplant

It has been four weeks since I have written here on my blog - my longest break since I started writing here at Pursuing Heart. And it has been a necessary break, as we have been completely occupied in caring for our family during our granddaughter's kidney transplant.

If you are a regular reader here, you may know that our sweet 16 year-old granddaughter, Crystal, was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease two years ago. The prognosis was that her kidneys would fail during her teen years, and that she would need a kidney transplant. It has been quite a journey since early 2013 as we as family have watched her kidney function decline. And it has been quite a journey for Crystal, as she has experienced nausea (in the mornings, often lasting through early afternoon) for two full years now, and has lost energy day by day. She is an amazing gal, and God has given her grace and endurance to walk this journey. 

And if you are a regular reader here, you probably also know that our oldest daughter, Amy, selflessly and generously offered to be a kidney donor for Crystal. We are amazed and so very thankful for God's provision.

Now we are in the month of May, and the April 20 Transplant Day has passed. We are back home from our 2 1/2 week stay in Dallas with our family. And it is time to share our thanks to God for all that He did during the past few weeks ... for His care of our daughter and granddaughter, and all of us, as we walked through kidney transplant.

My List of Thanks will be long, for God blessed us beyond what we even dreamed possible!

  • Transplant came at the perfect time. Crystal's kidney function dipped below 10% just a week or so before the scheduled transplant. If there would have been no donor in place, and no date set, she would have been put on dialysis. And dialysis was one of Crystal's biggest fears. As family, we earnestly asked God if she could be spared going through dialysis. How we praise God for granting Crystal her desire.
  • God provided the perfect donor for Crystal. We knew that the extensive testing for Amy revealed that she would be a very good match for Crystal, and as time went on, we learned even more. We have heard from the doctors that Amy is as good a match as a parent of Crystal would be! Which means that even though both Mark & Cristy were eliminated from being a donor because their testing revealed that they both had very early stages of kidney cancer (another whole heart-wrenching story of it's own), God provided a perfect donor in their place. How amazing is that? We just marvel at God's goodness in providing for Crystal, and putting it on Amy's heart to donate.
  • Transplant Day went amazingly well. It is beyond our understanding how a kidney can be removed from one person and then placed in another ... and then to begin functioning right from the start. That is exactly what happened! We praise God for the doctors who performed the surgeries ... Amy's surgery to have her left kidney removed began at 8:30 am on Monday, April 20th, and Crystal's surgery to remove her right diseased kidney began at 9:30 am. At about 10:45 am those of us in the waiting room were notified that the new kidney from Amy was ready to be transplanted into Crystal! How completely amazing. All went well, and we were told that Crystal's new kidney from Amy began functioning right from the start. Both Crystal and Amy were out of surgery and into their hospital rooms by 2 pm that day.
  • Recovery was not easy for either Crystal or Amy (and recovery continues on even now), but it has been going just as predicted, with no big problems. Crystal was in PICU (pediatric ICU) for several days, and then moved to a regular patient room to continue her recovery. Amy was in her hospital room for three days of recovery before being released to continue her recovery at Mark & Cristy's home. And now as I write this, both of them are back in their homes, continuing on with recovery.
  • God's grace, peace, and strength were there for us as family, as well. He held us up as we waited during the surgeries ... two loved family members in surgery at the same time. How emotional, and how we needed His peace as we waited. Then after surgery, our daughter, Cristy, received the strength and peace she needed as she stayed with her daughter, Crystal, throughout Crystal's whole 13-day hospital stay ... and He also gave me the strength and peace I needed as I stayed with my daughter, Amy, during her hospital stay. And also, as my hubby and I continued on as her caregivers after she was released and needed to stay on in Texas until April 29th.
  • We are in awe of the healing that God brought for both Crystal and Amy. A normal creatinine level (showing toxin levels) is around .6 to 1. Before transplant, Crystal's creatinine had gone up to 4.3, and just a few days after transplant, it was down in the normal range! Amazing! Her nausea disappeared, and she was able to begin eating a full breakfast (as well as other meals) shortly after surgery. She had experienced daily nausea and had had difficulty eating for two full years. And Amy's recovery astounded us, as well. Her labs taken on April 29th revealed that her creatinine level was in normal range already, something that they do not expect to take place until six months post-transplant. The doctor said that if a person did not know that she had only one kidney, that from looking at her labs, they would think that she still has two kidneys. How incredibly amazing to see the healing that has come to both Crystal and Amy! Of course, they will still be recovering and healing from surgery for weeks to come, but the results at this stage are above what would be expected.
  • My hubby and I praise God for the strength He gave us to serve our family well. While I was in the hospital for several days with Amy, Gary was helping at Mark & Cristy's home with their two youngest children. Mark needed to keep up with his real estate appraiser business, and Gary enjoyed being grampa - taking the kids to and from school, including getting breakfast for them, all while also driving back and forth to the hospital each day (45 minute drive each way). When Amy was released to go to their home, I also joined in the care of Luke and Brianna, while also being Amy's caregiver. Our days were full with caregiving, visiting Crystal and Cristy, caring for Luke and Brianna, taking care of the house, getting meals on the table (many meals provided by their church family), keeping the house sanitized and free of germs during recovery, doing load after load of laundry, and more. Our days ended about midnight, and started early the next morning. How we thank God for giving us great joy and the energy we needed to serve our family.
  • And how we praise God for the timing of Crystal's release from the hospital, and also Amy's release to travel back to Nebraska. We had wondered how much of a gap there would be between our time of return to our home near Omaha and the time for Cristy to be back at their home to care for the rest of her family. It turns out that Amy was released to travel home with us the same day that Crystal was released from the hospital! In fact, we left for our home at 4 pm on April 29, and Cristy & Crystal arrived home from the hospital at 6:30 pm that same day! To me, that little gift from God of the timing was like icing on the cake! We had just enough time when we got to their home after Amy's doctor appt. in the morning, to wash all the linens and towels from our stay, place clean bleached sheets on the bed for Crystal, and sanitize Crystal's room, ready for her return. We would have loved to stay a bit longer to welcome her home, but we needed to start out on our return home (driving in two days), and it was a blessing that they could come home to a quiet house, just their family.

We could go on and on with our thanks! 
How we thank God for His love and care during transplant
 and for the healing He has brought.

You are invited to read more of the details and emotions of Transplant Day on our family/ministry blog - click here.

And for more posts written on God's care during trials:

Linking up with:


  1. Aww I just loved this post! How awesome that the first time I have ever visited your blog you had such an amazing post so full of thanks. I was blessed to read it and look forward to reading more of your blog in the future. Prayers also will be said for you and your family. God bless you and your family, From Terri the blogger right after you on Holly's blog.

    1. Thanks so much, Terri, for your visit and your comment! And thanks especially for sharing in our praise and thanks to God for all the ways that He cared for our family during transplant! Things went even beyond what we dreamed of ... so thankful for His mercy and help in our time of need.

  2. Hi Cherry! Wow! What a testimony of God's goodness, protection, faithfulness and PERFECT timing! Thanks for sharing this praise report. The Lord put you on my heart, so I went to your website. What a blessing to see how God provided and gave you all strength. I loved seeing the pictures on the Caring Bridge website, too. I could see this story being in a book or magazine. More people hearing about what God can do even through something that is so hard. What the enemy means for harm, God uses for good and the saving of many lives. Praise God!

    1. So fun to see you here, Amber - thanks for your sweet words, and for praising God together with us! It is so amazing to think of all the ways that He cared for Crystal, Amy, and all of us as family. It's been a difficult journey, but God is so gracious and merciful in the ways that He cares for us.