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The test of time.

Our last post was on November 15. Here’s what has happened since then.

November 16. I completed my half marathon in honor of Mitchell. The best part was going by to see him after it was over. He was in the hospital and his pain from surgery (a transplanted kidney was removed because it was failing) was starting to get better. I gave Mitchell my race medal and hoped that he knew how inspiring his strength and courage is to me and everyone who knows him / his story.

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Week of Thanksgiving. Mitchell continued to recover and took his first steps in quite a while.

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He was released from the hospital on November 22nd. Things were looking up ~ maybe he’d even be home for Thanksgiving, his favorite holiday, but that reality was short-lived. He was re-admitted on November 24th and had emergency surgery due to multiple complications from the kidney being removed.

By November 30th, things started to turn around again for the better & his NG tube was removed. He had a few bites of oatmeal, a great sign that things were looking up (he had been on a liquid only diet for quite some time during this hospital stay).

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He was released from the hospital and enjoyed leftover Thanksgiving dinner, grateful to finally be home.

On December 4th, Mitchell went back to the hospital by ambulance. He was admitted into the ICU. His high blood pressure took a major toll on his body, and when we say major, we mean MAJOR. His family is keeping these details private, but it’s safe to say they were praying he’d make it through the unexpected trauma to his body and survive.

On December 5th, he woke up after 2 full days of being “asleep”, basically in a medicated state. I visited him in the ICU on that day and within an hour of arriving, he woke up. It was absolutely awesome to see him open his eyes. His sister, adorable baby nephew & Mom were by his side too. Within minutes of waking up, he asked for blue raspberry popsicles and took down one after another after another. His Mom was worried that he might get sick from consuming so many in such a short time frame, but that didn’t stop Mitchell or his pursuit for a blue tongue.

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On December 6th he was moved out of the ICU and onto the transplant floor. On December 9th, him & Mom went home.

On December 10th, his mother shared these poignant thoughts on the Save Mitchell Facebook page:

As I sit here tonight and think about the last month, I am extremely thankful for the support, love and prayers from family, friends and people that we have never met, but still keep us in their prayers. We still need lots of prayers and I know that we will get them! Today has been quite a day. We had some problems with Mitchell’s fistula this morning. He has lost so much weight and it is hard to get, needles in the right place. We got too much air in the lines first thing this morning and could not even rinse his blood back…scary!!! We set the machine back up and tried it again. (Had to stick him again) All went well until the last hour when Mitchell shifted in his chair and moved his arm too much and we got air again. This time we were able to end his treatment early and rinse his blood back. We will get it done right tomorrow! Prayers Please. As we were getting off the machine, Mike came upstairs to tell us that a large Weeping Willow Tree in our backyard fell, took out our fence and landed on neighbors back porch. Hope to get that cleaned up and fixed soon (somehow).

After all of this today, I sit here and am very grateful to have Mitchell home tonight. I honestly was not too sure last week that would happen. Tonight as we got ready to go to bed He hugged me and I know that he was thinking the same thing too. Friends, hug your children and tell them that you love them often! Never take anything for granted, I don’t! My children and grandchildren are my life and I know that I am blessed!! I know that the good Lord is at my side at all times, sometimes not the way that I would like, but still always near.
Love, Robin

On December 12th, his blood pressure was spiking, causing extreme concern that he’d have to go back to the hospital. That day, and pretty much every day since then, his blood pressure has been a big headache. It’s so important for the BP to stay under control because it can cause so many complications.

On December 17th, he went to the hospital for an appointment due to his dialysis fistula having trouble. He has lost so much weight recently, that the fistula isn’t working properly. The goal was to try and correct this problem.

Christmas week appeared to go well. He was able to attend church as well as see a movie with his family. What a treat!

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December 28th, Mitchell was short of breath, coughing and not feeling well. His Mom took him to the ER and he was ultimately admitted into the ICU. It turns out there is blood in his lungs (the cause is unknown at this time). The medical team decided to put him on a ventilator in order to let his body rest and get the oxygen he needs.

Today. December 29. This morning he spiked a fever and also has high potassium levels (likely from not having dialysis).  His Mom, as always, has not left his side.

Here is Mitchell today, wearing his bracelet. When he was wearing it a few weeks ago in the hospital, he was really scared that the hospital would cut it off while in the ER. Thankfully it’s still holding strong. Just like Mitchell. Holding strong, always.

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This guy has been fighting for his life since the age of 8. Today he is 20-years-old and still never gives up. His resilience and faith has stood the test of time. Time that should have been spent being an innocent child, time that should currently be spent attending college, dating, getting into trouble, and experiencing all that life has to offer. But instead, him and his family focus on one thing and one thing only – a miracle.

We pray that we have much more time with him, and that through grace and through God, his body will be healed.

Much love,

Mary Beth

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Surgery day.

Mitchell has been suffering quite a bit lately. We’ll spare you the details, but it isn’t pretty. It turns out the most recent transplanted kidney is the cause of these issues, so his medical team decided to remove it immediately.

Here he is going into the OR bright and early this morning at 5:30AM. This is once again the face of bravery.

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The surgery went well with the exception of blood pressure concerns. His BP is being managed now by medicine drips and hopefully that will be under control soon. As expected, he’s also in quite a bit of pain post-op.

On a positive note, money we raised from SAVE MITCHELL t-shirts went to an amazing cause. Previously Mitchell had been receiving dialysis 6 hours a day on an extraordinarily uncomfortable chair. It caused him neck and back pain to the point he was stuffed with pillows all over.

Last week though, he picked out a brand new La-Z Boy recliner chair, complete with a remote control. How cool is that?! The head and lumbar adjusts so he is no longer in physical pain while receiving dialysis treatments.

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The timing of this surgery is bitter sweet because tomorrow I’m running a half marathon in honor of Mitchell, along with another non-profit called Tiny Sparrow Foundation. Just last night I dropped by a check for $500 to Mitchell & his parents, thanks to generous supporters of friends and family making donations. You’d never he was about to have major surgery in less than 12 hours. But then again, he was surrounded by super sweet dogs.

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Meanwhile, in about 12 hours, I’ll be running for HOPE… and will never give up believing in miracles. Because love wins.

Much love,

Mary Beth

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Glory Days.

Every Monday night, Mitchell and his family are most likely hanging out at their local Glory Days restaurant for burger night.

September 23rd was no different.

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His folks invited me to stop by and I was so happy to see them after what felt like a lifetime. About once a week I check in via phone with Mitchell’s mom, my direct line to keeping tabs on our resilient fighter. It was the perfect opportunity to present them with a check of the money we raised from Save Mitchell t-shirts + some individual donations.

He had a fistula implanted a few months ago. I thought it was some type of contraption that was inserted into his arm, but I learned that I was wrong. A fistula isn’t an object, it’s a procedure. In short, his veins are configured to receive dialysis (input and output). A passage is made between vessels. He has several little holes in his arm (covered by bandages in this photo) that have to be pierced/reopened every time he receives dialysis treatments. His mom encouraged me to put my fingers over where the fistula was created (near his wrist) and I literally gasped outloud. It feels like something electrical is inside of him, buzzing. But it is actually just the blood in his veins going super fast.

This “technology” allowed him to get rid of his central line (which can lead to infections and also cannot get wet). If he wanted to, Mitchell could even go in a swimming pool. Unfortunately it was too late in the summer season for him to enjoy that favorite pastime by the time everything healed; it needed 8+ weeks to heal before it could be used. Slowly but surely, Mitchell and his Mom are getting the hang of it. As always, he is being a trooper in the process.

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At the present time, there are no talks of another transplant. Right now the focus is on keeping his health as steady as possible. No ER visits, no radical drops or highs in critical medical vitals, no infections. Right now the focus is to get his dialysis treatments down pat, so they can stop making 30+ mile trips to the dialysis clinic on a daily basis and simply do the life-saving process at home. The entire process lasts about 7-8 hours from the time they leave the house in the morning, to the time they finish dialysis and head home.

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Continued thanks to all of the support, love and prayers from near and far. If you’d like to make a donation to help fund a dialysis clinic tank of gas for one week, you can contribute $66.00 through the PayPal account here: https://savemitchell.com/donate-a-dollar-2/

Much love,
Mary Beth

Glory days yeah goin back
Glory days aw he ain’t never had
Glory days, glory days

Now I think I’m going down to the well tonight
and I’m going to drink till I get my fill
And I hope when I get old I don’t sit around thinking about it
but I probably will
Yeah, just sitting back trying to recapture
a little of the glory of, well time slips away
and leaves you with nothing mister but
boring stories of glory days

-Bruce Springsteen

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One year later.

Jessica, Mitchell’s donor angel, was nice enough to contribute a guest blog post in honor of the one-year anniversary coming up on August 7th {read the original blog post here from surgery week}.

It’s July 31, 2013 and I can’t believe that is has been almost one year since I donated my kidney to a stranger so that Mitchell could receive a new lease on life. Everything is still so fresh in my mind, from the physical screenings to the prep before heading into the OR. I know when I first told family and friends about my decision to be a living donor I was met with disbelief. Many people didn’t understand why I would want to give an organ away to someone who wasn’t family. There were plenty of questions that started with “what if..” or “what are you thinking?” It wasn’t easy to explain to people my motivation or my feelings about what I was doing. It wasn’t something that was easily put into words. It was something that I felt. I had done my research, I had discussed the risks with the doctors and I had made my mind up about what I was meant to do.

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I frequently get asked how my recipient is doing and how Mitchell is doing. Well as for my recipient, I haven’t heard much about her since my 6 month follow up. I don’t know if she knows my name or if she’s even interested in knowing who she got a kidney from. It doesn’t really matter to me as long as my kidney is happy in its new home and functioning well enough to give her an improved quality of life. Would it be nice to meet her? Of course. The logistics on when a recipient can contact their donor and how are somewhat lost on me. I didn’t get a great rundown on how that works exactly.

I’m sure most of you have been following the blog and the facebook page, so I’ll spare you the details of how Mitchell did after the surgery. For a while there he was looking great! I was really happy that his quality of life had improved and it seemed that this kidney was doing well in its new home. A few bumps in the road popped up, but I remained optimistic that these were just little hiccups on the road to success. But as we all know now, it wasn’t meant to be. I felt sadness and despair as I got phone call after phone call from Robin, Mitchell’s mom, with bad news.

My heart ached for Mitchell, he had already been through so much in his young life and it just wasn’t fair that this was happening to him (and his family) again! I was disappointed that this new kidney had not taken as we had all hoped and prayed for. The silver lining (in my mind at least): he had a few months after surgery to enjoy his new kidney and to do things he hadn’t been able to do for some time. I wish it had turned out differently for Mitchell and his family. I had hoped that the 3rd time would be a charm, but maybe there is some greater purpose behind all of it.

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As for me, I’m doing well. I really have no complaints a year later. I’ve seen no negative effects on my health as a result of the surgery and if you didn’t know me you’d have no idea I only have one kidney. I’ll have an annual physical to check my kidney function, but other than that no specials medications or precautions. The team at VCUHS was fantastic. My pain after surgery was minimal and a week later I was up walking around and meeting friends for lunch.

“Would you do it again?” Without hesitation, yes. Choosing to donate my kidney was one of the best decisions I have made so far in my life. I have a great appreciation for how blessed I am to be healthy and able to give to those who are not as fortunate. I know that many people that read this blog and keep up with Mitchell’s story think to themselves: “I would never do that!” or “I couldn’t do it.” Is living donation for everyone? No. Are there plenty of people out there capable of being a living donor and just think “no way!”, probably so. I know that most people aren’t willing to give up something so precious for a stranger, but I pose this question: ” Why not?”. I think if we approached life with a “why not?” attitude, we might just be a little better off. I’m glad I did what I did. It has made me a better person and I’m thankful that I was able to do it. There are plenty of people out there that think it was weird or crazy to do what I did.

Here’s what I have to say to that: “What have you done to better someone’s life?” Do I expect everyone to go sign up to be a living donor, of course not! But if I can reach out and positively influence the thinking of just one person then I know I have made a difference.

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If anyone has questions, please feel free to post them and I’ll answer them as best as I can! Thanks for reading and I wish you all the best!

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” ~Edward Everett Hale

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Happy birthday Mitchell.

Today is Mitchell’s birthday. He’s been alive for 20 meaningful years. He’s been fighting for his life for the last 12 of those years.

This blog has been neglected since December as the Facebook page has become the primary portal for Save Mitchell weekly updates, but today it felt fitting to post a thoughtful update here.

The winter wasn’t easy. Since the New Year, the road to a new life with a new kidney took a major detour. Mitchell’s 3rd transplanted organ that he received in August 2012 was put in jeopardy due to a variety of medical setbacks. He was admitted to the hospital for over two weeks in January, and during that time period, contracted the CMV virus which can be fatal. To nurse him back to health, the kidney was compromised because anti-rejection medications were lowered in order to treat the CMV virus. Because of everything he’s been through over the years, his immune system isn’t strong so is susceptible to getting sick pretty easily.

On April 10th, news broke that the kidney was officially lost. Fifteen days later, on April 25th, he started dialysis in order to keep him alive.

Dialysis is a double-edge sword for people who are in end stage renal failure. It’s significantly lowers the quality of life as we know it. People spend hours & hours hooked up to machines going through the monotonous routine, then the next day they recover and by the time they start to feel a bit better, they go through the process all over again. Some people receive treatments every single day, which will be Mitchell’s future beginning in the next few months once a permanent Fistula is implanted in his arm. On the other hand, dialysis is literally keeping him with us and that is arguably the most beautiful gift we could ever ask for. Life.

He wants to keep living. Everyone who knows Mitchell wants him to keep living. People who don’t personally know Mitchell want him to keep living. He has touched people through his resiliency, courage and quiet strength. It is safe to say that anyone who crosses his path could learn something and be inspired to keep fighting whatever battle faces them.

Today, we celebrate him. The person who chooses every single day to open his eyes. To get dressed. To go through the motions of taking dozens of medical pills, fighting through physical pain, and believing that someday, somehow, things will get better.

Can he have a fourth kidney transplant? Time will tell, but that isn’t on the radar right now. Will he have the opportunity to be a part of research, stem cell developments, or medical miracles in America or elsewhere? Time will tell, but that is on the back burner right now.

What we do know for sure, right now, is that Love Wins.

His Mother has never left his side, as the unofficial nurse with an honorary RN degree, and sacrifices working/income…much less a good night’s sleep…to care for her son day and night. Mitchell’s Father, siblings, grandparents, and extended family and  friends support him, encourage him, and hold onto hope.

The medical bills continue to pile up at warp speed, expensive gas to travel round trip on the 50 mile drive for dialysis clinic visits 3 times a week for 4 hours at a time, a neglected house that needs various maintenance work but time and money has kept that from becoming a reality. The list of burdens goes on and on and on.

But ya know what? Their incredible faith is what keeps them hanging on. Some days are brighter than others, but behind it all is a deep belief, a steadfast conviction that everything will be OK.

Happy birthday Buddy.

Much love,

Mary Beth

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Thank you!

I would like to thank everyone for supporting me and my family. It has been a long road, but I am finally feeling much better and my new kidney is doing great!

Thanks again for the prayers, buying the shirts, and for the donations. It was overwhelming to realize that so many people care.

Love,

Mitchell

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Hope floats.

This week has been quite a whirlwind. Mitchell came home on Tuesday, exactly one week after transplant surgery, which was wonderful! His blood pressure was coming down, which meant two of his six blood pressure medications could be discontinued. Things were looking up and we were doing the backstroke in a bath of good news.

I finally heard a sense of calmness in Mrs. Lyne’s voice over the phone on Thursday after spending the entire day in the transplant clinic, and she even admitted with an exacerbated tone, “I’ve been surviving on adrenaline. Now that we’re home, I’m crashing and incredibly tired.” You may remember that she had a terrible car accident a few months ago and has been suffering from pain in her arm and neck. Mrs. Lyne’s physical therapy came to a complete halt two weeks ago when Mitchell went into surgery mode — so between that stopping, plus sleeping on hospital sofas and now on her own couch next to her sick son…her body has taken a beating.

She went on to talk about the kitchen floors needing to be cleaned and I stopped her, “The floors can wait. Get some rest.” She reported that things seemed to be moving along in the right direction, besides creatinine levels being a bit high, to which they’d adjust his anti-rejection meds to help fix that. He wouldn’t need to report back to clinic until another four days on Monday.

We hung up the phone and not even a few hours went by before she rang again. The news wasn’t good. It turns out his blood pressure going down wasn’t necessarily a good thing, per se. You see, it could actually be a sign of the kidney being in distress. He’d need to return to clinic the very next day, Friday.

Friday comes and goes and the takeaway isn’t what we wanted to hear. His high levels of creatinine and low blood pressure…adds up to a biopsy appointment scheduled for Monday afternoon. Unless, in the meantime, the levels normalize.

That means he’ll be admitted back into the hospital for at least 24 hours while they keep an eye on him and the procedure’s wound, that nothing goes awry from sticking a needle in his recycled kidney.

I went by their home today to say hello & drop off a few goodies, including a check for $750 thanks to the third batch of SAVE MITCHELL t-shirts being sold. I also had a set of coffee table books made for him & Jessica as a keepsake; Facebook and blogs stock full of digital photos are lovely but there is something to be said for tangible memories.

When I arrived he was asleep on the recliner chair, faithfully wearing his SAVE MITCHELL t-shirt; evidently the blood pressure meds make you extremely tired. The Yankees were on TV, of course, his favorite baseball team. Beside him was a gigantic organizer of pills. I couldn’t exactly count how many were in each slot, but I eyeballed at least 15 or even 20.

He currently has SEVEN battle wounds that are healing — from his transplant surgery, dialysis cath removal, nephrectomy, central line in his neck, and on and on. I imagine his torso looks like he was attacked in a back alley from criminals. Without fail, Mitchell’s quirky sense of humor managed to make me laugh out loud and I almost fell off the couch. His Mom explained, “In the past, when we’ve been at the beach and people ask, ‘Wow what are those scars from?!?’ Mitchell tells them they’re from a shark attack.”

The poor guy has been through more than many of us will experience in our entire lifetime by the age of nineteen years old. All he wants to do is live. Just breathe, and live, and laugh. I wish that for him.

But for now, he’ll continue to fight for his life, defy odds, keep doctors, surgeons and nurses on their toes to figure out why and the heck his body rejects kidneys time and time again. And we’ll continue to rally around him and his unbreakable family.

Thank you so much for the continued support and for always believing. Right now it’s time to  swim, not sink. It’s time for a miracle. Let’s keep Mitchell and his family afloat by wrapping them up in a life vest of hope.

Much love,

Mary Beth

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Post-op Day 3.


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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Transplant Day!

The big day is finally here!! Mitchell’s transplant surgery is underway, and our hero Jessica is finishing up having her kidney removed. TWO lives are being saved today.

Love wins.

Mitchell shining bright before surgery.

Jessica is ready to get the show on the road!

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A gift.

This blog was birthed on February 13, 2012, on the cusp of my two failed attempts to donate one of my kidneys to Mitchell. God put it on my heart to help this young man, that much I knew for sure…and if a kidney wasn’t coming out of my torso, then I would be used in another way.

Savemitchell.com came to life to tell his story, share updates, as well as establish a Facebook page for supporters to follow along on his journey. We’ve raised thousands of dollars, created Save Mitchell dot com t-shirts (over 100 sold and counting), and even had folks make homemade dinners for the family. We chronicled Mitchell’s triumphs outside of the operating room including getting to meet his favorite college basketball team (VCU Rams), watched him graduate high school, and attend Prom.

We’ve also learned about the not-so-glamorous, behind-the-scenes look at life on dialysis. As his Mother candidly said in the recent past, “he’s the sickest he’s ever been.” That statement says a lot considering the guy has been dealing with kidney failure and survived two transplants in the last 11 years. Needless to say, his loved ones and supporters have been clinging onto hope. That someway, somehow, someone would step forward to give the gift of life and be a suitable match.

Enter Jessica.

She emailed the Save Mitchell Facebook page on May 17, asking about his status since the blog had a lapse in updates. My response was:

For a while he was doing well, then him and his Mom went to NC about two weeks ago to visit family, and suffered a complication thru dialysis — he was in a lot of pain. Things seem to be doing better now. No updates on donors. The hospital is working on a ‘domino’ transplant that could involved 8 donors/recipients so the testing and matching process feels like it’s taking forever. Thanks again for reaching out & the support!

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, we learned that someone named Jessica was being tested. In organ donation, the hospital coordinator keeps details confidential to protect everyone involved, including HIPAA laws (patient privacy), so his family & I were grasping for any and all information which was loosely shared. The stories and status changed every few days — one moment we’re talking about people in Missouri and Pennsylvania participating in a domino swap, the next moment we’re focused on fixing his dialysis machine, and the next moment we’re anxiously awaiting any update whatsoever from the transplant unit.

Well today was the day we’ve all been waiting for — this is finally happening in six short days. Mitchell has a donor, and it’s all thanks to sweet, selfless, super hero Jessica. She is donating to a stranger (known as “altruistic”) in need of a kidney in Richmond, VA — and her husband will donate their kidney to Mitchell. Although just like when I tested, Jessica wasn’t a match for Mitchell, the beautiful thing is she’s now saving TWO lives.

The odds of this entire situation happening are slim on multiple levels. For one, given Mitchell’s complicated history and multiple surgeries, has unfortunately made it very difficult to find strong matches; it’s not as simple as having the same blood type — the process is much more involved including antibodies, tissue matching, etc. Additionally, to have the swap take place in the exact same city is amazing. Dealing with dozens of people in a large kidney swap could have delayed the surgery for months, not to mention more room for error. Finally, Jessica is a nursing student and starts school soon — so her timeline to undergo the surgery and build in time to recover is tight. But, by the grace of God, the stars aligned.

Sure many hiccups could take place, causing the surgery to not happen , or complications from the transplant…but we’re not going to focus on that. No-no, we’re not even going to put an ounce of energy into What If? Because life doesn’t work that way — we are only guaranteed today, so let’s put our love and support into a perfect outcome for every single person involved. Let’s let go & let God. Let’s be brave and believe.

I asked Jessica if she’d write a guest blog post to share her perspective, what this experience means to her, and why she was inspired to get involved. She happily obliged and titled it: A Gift. Her story brought me to tears for more reasons than I could ever explain… I’m so grateful for everyone’s support, and lift up Mitchell, his family, Jessica, and her family ~ that Tuesday, August 7 is The Day that Love wins, Faith perseveres, Hope prevails, and we’re no longer here to Save Mitchell ~ rather, Mitchell is saved.

Much love,

Mary Beth

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