save mitchell

donate a kidney, a dollar, or a prayer for hope & healing

Post-op Day 3.

on August 10, 2012


I was lucky enough to spend all-day Tuesday at the hospital to support Mitchell, his family, and his donor Jessica during their transplants. The experience was surreal; I wasn’t watching Grey’s Anatomy in a flat screen TV, life was being saved in real time. Even when I worked at Johns Hopkins and walked down the hospital halls daily, I didn’t get to see behind-the-scenes happenings or truly understand what it’s like to wait, and wait, and wait for updates as the surgery took place. It was hands down one of the most moving, profound and best days of my entire life.

Since I started this blog 8 months ago, got tested twice to be a kidney donor (once to Mitchell directly & once for a kidney swap situation), launched the Save Mitchell t-shirts fundraiser, fostered a relationship with Mitchell’s mother and have been left speechless by her living Sainthood status, raising thousands of dollars due to selfless community members opening their wallets, updating his Facebook fan page on a daily basis, and hearing about the up & down roller coaster ride of his health status…to say that Tuesday was a gigantic, collective sigh of relief is putting it lightly.

The goal of being physically present was to keep his parents occupied in the morning before the immediate and extended family arrived, to personally stay updated on the surgeries progress, and to keep the social media circle informed as the day unfolded. All three were accomplished and I left 9 hours later feeling more mentally/emotionally tired than if I had been sitting at my day job desk for the exact same amount of time.

As I feel asleep Monday night, during my morning drive into VCU Medical Center on Tuesday, and the evening drive home — I wept. The tears were made from 100% natural joy. Since the day I learned of Mitchell having his transplant surgery day set in stone, gratitude keeps oozing from my pores. Mitchell receiving a transplant, all because of Jessica being impossibly humble and selfless…it all feels magical. A divine intervention if I’ve ever seen one.

I returned to the hospital today to see our brave hero on an extended lunch break. He was in much better shape than when I left him Tuesday night {which was basically incoherent & not awake, squinting in pain every few seconds}. Today he was sitting in recliner chair with bright blue lips from a hospital popsicle. Mitchell is a quiet guy and has an aura about him that feels old and wise, but those Cookie Monster blue lips immediately reminded me that he’s still a teenager with a young heart and spirit.

When I first entered the room, a lady who handles all of his medications was telling him, “This is a test. You can have *ONE* cracker and then we’ll see how it goes.” He slowly savored his very first piece of solid food, a graham cracker, and 30 minutes later asked, “So what’s next?” He’s starving after not eating for 3 days, and finally has an appetite. Next he munched on pretzels while watching a movie and dozing off every so often during my two hour visit.

What I love about the Lyne family is how absolutely hilarious they are. At one point Mitchell’s monitor was making a beeping noise and his Dad got annoyed that it kept going off {the nurse attempted to fix the problem 3 times to no avail}. Mrs. Lyne turned to him and said, “Sorry if his life support is bothering you…” and we all broke out into a deep belly laugh. Those two are quite a pair and I can tell they’ve been married for a very long time between their banter and playful interactions. Raising five kids, three of whom have suffered from tremendous health issues over the last decade — they know that when life gets rough, you have to laugh for survival.

Mitchell has had a harder time post-op this 3rd transplant than the last one. So far he’s had a few blood transfusions, a bad reaction to pain meds that caused him to be severely itchy {can you imagine having your entire abdomen sliced open and to make matters worse, you are uncontrollably itchy??}, he has air trapped in his intestines/stomach which is causing horrible nausea and vomiting, and wasn’t allowed to move for the first few days.

Fortunately today he’s feeling a little better and took a brief stroll down the floor. And the BEST news of all… is his new kidney is doing beautifully!! The organ is functioning properly, working hard to keep Mitchell alive & kickin’, and producing urine like nobody’s business.

Balloons, baskets full of candy, and well wishes are everywhere. Meals are being prepared for the family to help them next week once discharged. The love is palpable.

Meanwhile, I also got to visit with Jessica for about 15 minutes down the hall, when she was preparing paperwork to be discharged in a few short hours. I’ve only known her for a brief time now, but could definitely tell a big difference in her demeanor. In our past texts, emails, and in-person convos, she was pretty positive and energetic — whereas today she was very subdued. However despite her physical appearance being dialed back, I can tell that her spirit is stronger than ever. Also I got to see her eat solid food {her second time, first being a few pieces of cornflakes last night} — her preferred food was peanut butter crackers, yum.

We discussed how her post-op experience has been, and despite it not being pretty {including side effects from pain meds, a severe allergic reaction to Benadryl which also caused severe itching that left marks on her back, a bloody nose, nausea causing her not to eat for all 3 days in the hospital, and an increased heart rate episode}, overall her mental attitude is phenomenal. She barely even took pain medication since the operation; frankly, I think that’s insane. I’ve heard accounts of donors comparing their pain levels *higher* than giving natural birth. But Jessica? Nah. She said, “I’m not a wussy.” No, no she is not. She’s a soldier.

In fact, I watched her peer out the 9th floor transplant unit window, and smiled when she said, “If I was not on drugs right now, I wouldn’t be looking out the window. I don’t like being up high.”

Here are some more photos from today. Thanks for everyone’s continued support and encouragement.

Much love,

Mary Beth

Mitchell’s armor

Jessica’s armor

Mitchell’s life support {loved ones not pictured}

Virginia Commonwealth University Men’s Baseball Team 

Posted above Mitchell’s bed 

Jessica’s virtually untouched tray of lunch, “I tried the roll. Eh, not so much.”

Mitchell’s Mom wearing her Save Mitchell dot com shirt along with a kidney necklace pendant.

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