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Benevolence

on February 13, 2012

| be·nev·o·lence |

noun

1. desire to do good to others; goodwill; charitableness: to be filled with benevolence toward one’s fellow creatures.
2. an act of kindness; a charitable gift.

I scrolled through 120 blog themes in an attempt to visually portray the purpose of this platform — to save Mitchell Lyne. More on this warrior to be reckoned with in upcoming posts.

One blog theme was titled: Benevolence. Although it isn’t the design I ultimately chose, the word’s meaning seeped into my pours. You see, I’m part of a human species that has no choice but to help others in need. That attribute is solely derived from God. He made me this way and I own it, for better or for worse.

I am what some might call a spiritual person. Yes I was raised Christian and this denomination makes up the majority of my faith’s DNA, but my heart most resonates with practicing The Golden Rule {treat others how you would like to be treated}. As the Dalai Lama said, “My religion is simple. My religion is kindness.”

In 2001, my college days in Richmond, Virginia were coming to a close and graduation day was fast approaching. However a sorority sister, Stacey, had much more on her plate than job interviews and finals. Stacey donated a kidney to her younger brother, Mitchell. He was only 8-years-old at the time. Our sisterhood chapter organized fundraisers for their family and rallied around in support. To the best of my knowledge, the surgery was a success and everyone would live happily ever after.
Time passed and the social media network Facebook exploded, which essentially fosters online reunions and put me back in touch with Stacey. I would have categorized her in the ‘acquaintances’ folder. We were friendly in passing & saw each other at mutual friends’ bridal/baby showers. Then to my surprise, a few years ago, her status update said that Mitchell needed a new kidney. By the time I learned my blood type after donating a pint to the Red Cross, A Positive – a compatible type, another donor had come forward and matched Mitchell. I silently decided to get tested, but never had the opportunity.

Once again, I figured the organ’s new home was safe & sound. The end.

But everything wasn’t OK. I didn’t understand why exactly, but felt terrible for his family and for the young boy who endured so many scalpels before graduating high school.

Last spring, without telling anyone except for Stacey and a few close friends, I went to the hospital to see if I could help. God told me to. Not in a whisper, not as a subtle suggestion, nor as a possible consideration. Nope — it was an adamant directive. My heart was heavy with His call-to-action and there was no ignoring, or, questioning it. Others would later ask, “But, but, you don’t even know him?” “But, but, you aren’t even that close with Stacey?” “But, but….what if ___?” On the drive over to the hospital lab that morning, I prayed, hard. I asked God to help navigate this somewhat scary and unknown world of kidney donations.

“I leave this outcome entirely in Your hands. If this is meant to be, You will see to it that I’m a match. Selflishly, Lord, I kinda don’t want to match, because then that would mean I have to actually deal with a surgery…and who knows what else. But seriously, I trust You — I do, and will handle the outcome however this plays out. Amen.”
A few days later the donor coordinator called and said, “The doctors can’t believe it, you appear to be a match! They’re scratching their heads at how close the results were.” She continued, “The criteria for matches is very strict since we’re being extra picky this (third) time. You need to come back and have more blood work drawn, we’ll now literally crossmatch your bloods on top of each other and see how they react.”

I knew it, I just knew it. God had a plan after all and I’m glad I was quiet enough to listen to, and hear Him.

After my second batch of testing, the coordinator’s next call wasn’t as positive as the first. Our bloods didn’t like each other after all. I was extremely confused, totally dumbfounded.

“How could this be? God, what was this all for? You put it on my heart to get tested, remember?”
I could have sworn that it was written, as they say, that I was meant to be a match. Ultimately I rationalized that my involvement was to help the family know that there are people out there willing to help, and keep their hope alive.

The experience also became an exercise for my boyfriend and I to have very serious discussions about us, our future, and practice clear communication about delicate subjects.

Nine months passed and I eventually moved cities, started working for Johns Hopkins Medicine on their marketing team, and thought the Mitchell files were closed. But then a few short weeks after relocating, my phone rang. It was the hospital coordinator asking if I was still interested in donating. “It’s a kidney swap situation. Another person in need of a kidney has a loved one who matches with Mitchell. Now we need to find a kidney for that person.”

My head was shaking — this was it. God wanted me to help save two lives, not just one. Ok, I get it now.

In the meantime, before receiving the kidney swap scenario call, I learned a tremendous amount of clinical information on the kidney, living donations, the surgery, and long-term impacts on a living donor {which are basically none, people can live a normal, full lifespan with only one kidney}. As fate would have it, one of my service lines at Hopkins is….the transplant department. The first project assigned to me had to do with incompatible transplant from living donors.

Really? Come on. As they say, God certainly has a sense of humor.

I was also intimately familiar with kidney swaps because as it turns out, Hopkins is the first hospital that performed a “domino” tranplant – six people to be exact – and I had just watched a video about it the very same week.

Today, February 13, Mitchell was wheeled into the OR to have a port placed in his abdomen. He needs to start dialysis. This is such a blessing and such a curse. The treatment keeps him alive and that is magnificent. But the curse is that it means he doesn’t have the kidney swap in place to proceed with a transplant.

On Wednesday I’m going to the Hopkins testing lab to have blood drawn and see if I match with the recipient-in-waiting down in central Virginia. I don’t know much about her except for the fact she’s in her twenties, has never had a transplant, is also on dialysis, and has someone who loves her enough to give up his/her kidney to a stranger — Mitchell. If I’m not a match for her, then this web site is my second best gift ~ a place to advocate and give him and his family a voice.

Please keep these two courageous souls in your thoughts and prayers as they wait and hold onto hope.

This online community is a place to champion for and support Mitchell. We’ll share stories about his life, his fight, his progress, and hopefully, his new kidney. Oh – and – in case you’re interested, the name of this blog design is Brand New Day…which is what I hope Mitchell will be granted for many years to come.

Much love,
Mary Beth

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