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March madness

What a whirlwind the last two weeks have been. March madness is in full swing.

First, acts of kindness exploded in full force, allowing Mitchell to be treated like a superstar for an evening, recounted in this blog post. The courageous guy, fighting for his life, got to enjoy himself by watching his favorite college basketball team up close & personal. No really, check out his view from right behind the players’ bench.

Then, if that wasn’t amazing enough, a local TV new station decided to cover the superstar “story.” You see, in my former life I worked in the news. One of my roles was to read press releases and decide which pitches were newsworthy. Because of this experience, it helps me in my current marketing/PR roles at work…and luckily…during my free time convince reporters to give pro bono publicity for a sweet 18-year-old who needs a kidney. In this case the spin went something like this: The Virginia Commonwealth University basketball team plays George Mason at the Siegel Center tonight. But while most fans will be focused on the rivalry, they won’t realize there is an extra special young man in the stands….meet Mitchell Lyne.

The clip can be watched here: Mitchell Lyne Needs a Kidney to Live

Please post the link on your social media pages, send an email to contacts, or spread the word in conversations among friends and family. If it gets in the right hands, who knows, maybe a kidney donor is right around the corner.

In addition to that night of magical memories, another meaningful mission is in the works.

A few months ago I moved to Baltimore and started working at Johns Hopkins in the marketing & communications department. The irony of this connection + being a potential donor to Mitchell is outlined in this blog post. Well I took a shot in the dark and asked Mitchell’s sister Stacey & his Mom if they would consider having him sent to Hopkins for a second opinion. Seeing as though he has received care by the same hospital in Richmond for over a decade, I completely understand why the family feels loyalty. At the same time though, there really is nothing to lose by seeking extra eyes and hands on Mitchell’s medical records. He has had so many complications and condition isn’t getting any better {case in point, his first full day of dialysis was delayed due to a stomach lining infection ~ it is extremely painful & can even be fatal}. You just never know…and don’t want to ever wonder: What if?

Low & behold, they decided to go for it!

Even though the hospital doesn’t accept his insurance. Even though the world-renowned kidney transplant expert is incredibly busy. Even though the administration team is swamped. Even though…all of these hurdles, God had other plans. Mitchell & his Mom are headed to Baltimore in two weeks for a consultation with the same doctor who has performed over 1,000 kidney transplant surgeries, has appeared on network TV in the reality series Hopkins 24, was part of the first-ever 5-way kidney swap transplant, and regularly travels all over the world giving talks to his peers.

He has no idea who I am. I’ve passed Dr. Robert Montgomery in the hospital halls {to be fair, you really can’t miss him or his distinct beard}. I’ve read countless articles about him. I’ve even sat in his office for a meeting with his colleagues {and completely got distracted by framed photos hanging on the wall, standing next to several American Presidents}. I’ve secretly hoped, from Day 1, that he would meet Mitchell. Yes there are hundreds of brilliant physicians at the esteemed #1 hospital in the United States, but for whatever reason Dr. Montgomery has been singed on my kidney heart.

Ironically, I haven’t even met Mitchell face-to-face, and will get to look at him in the eyes for the first time, on the same day he gets to meet the Hopkins family. I am looking forward to hearing what comes from this Meeting of Hope — and excited to see what else God has up His sleeves. He continues to use me in ways I could have never imagined, and give the master innovator every ounce of credit.

Much love,

Mary Beth

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Little miracles

Taking showers. Going for a run. Enjoying my favorite meal with an abundant appetite. Sleeping in my bed, in any position I choose. Going to work/school/social activities as I please. Having a comfortable full night’s rest. Hitting the gym. Fending for myself without thinking twice.

I can’t help but appreciate all of these ‘luxuries’ — also known as everyday activities — that are at my disposal. Yet, Mitchell’s current reality is far from mine.

  • He can’t hop under hot water for a full body cleanse — the catheter healing for dialysis treatments to begin soon doesn’t permit a traditional shower for one whole month.
  • Devouring a delicious dinner to his heart’s desire isn’t necessarily possible. The countless medications, procedure side effects, and unpredictability in appetite on any given day — make the basic function of eating an indefinite: TBD.
  • Slipping into an eight-hour sleep, in the comfort of his bed, is a distance memory. Instead, the sofa chair is his place of rest; usually his Mother is within arm’s reach.

Every single morning I start my prayers by thanking God for blessings — the simple ones — my five senses, my working limbs, my mental, emotional & physical health, my education and employment. Access to clean, running water.

These days, Mitchell inevitably pops into my mind at some point during the dialogue of gratitude, and I think how lucky I am to have it pretty darn easy.

As I’m slowly starting to understand the daily grind of Mitchell’s life, it forces me to reflect on how effortless it is to take common, expected ‘luxuries’ for granted.

The people closest to him never speak his name without commenting on Mitchell’s resiliency and quiet strength. “He never complains, ever” — which makes me think he isn’t human. How could someone in his condition not peep a problem? But the thing is, he is human, a very special human who accepts his uphill road with a grandiose amount of grace.

Because my Monday through Friday appears vastly easier than his, the moment his Mother mentioned how much Mitchell enjoys watching VCU {the local university} basketball games, I knew he had to attend one, stat. For one, the last game of the season was only a few days away. Additionally…he hasn’t been able to snag tickets because every single home game is sold out, due to the rise in popularity from last season’s Final Four run. Now all we needed was a little magic.

With a few strokes of the keyboard & putting a call out to the masses, a kind soul named Cindy offered to secure two tickets for the fan and a guest {by default, Mitchell’s Mom selflessly selected his Dad} — courtesy of the Associate Coach Mike Rhoades who is a friend of a friend. Then another kind soul who came across my call-for-action, Tom, stepped up to the plate with the equivalent of a big black and yellow bow.

He said, “My Mom works at the hospital transplant unit, I think she knows Mitchell. She’d like to help do something special.” Twenty-four hours later he rang my phone to announce, “She made some phone calls and arranged to have Mitchell meet the VCU basketball team before the game. We’re also getting a ball signed with the players’ signatures.” To top it off, VCU managed to get his Mom a ticket too, so now the whole family can be together.

My wish is that tonight, if even for a few minutes or a few hours, Mitchell is able to enjoy himself and not focus on his body’s fight over the last decade. He can act his age, have fun cheering on a live sports game, and make memories that he actually wants to remember.

Life is stuffed with light & love. And if you pay close enough attention, little miracles.

Much love,

Mary Beth

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