save mitchell

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

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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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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Dialysis or bust.

The face of dialysis.

The face of hope.

The face of strength.

The face of Mitchell Lyne.

This week Mitchell began hemodialysis at home, thanks to his devote Mother who has been training for weeks on how to perform the treatments. For the last month or more, they had been traveling to the dialysis clinic.

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Meanwhile, we are finishing up a fundraising effort for Save Mitchell t-shirts. We redesigned them so if you already own the original version, now is your chance to own a new version AND give back to our hero. $15.00 from each sales goes to help pay for his medical bills. Visit the website for more information, this campaign ends on June 20, 2013: http://www.bonfirefunds.com/fund/save-mitchell

Thanks for everyone’s continued support & prayers. Please follow along on Save Mitchell’s Facebook for daily updates.

ML

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Saving lives is newsworthy!

Mitchell and his family were interviewed on Richmond’s local ABC station ~ we are thrilled that his inspiring story has been shared. Hopefully others will be inspired to donate life, or at a minimum, advocate for those who are fighting for their lives.

Here are the news story links:

Click here to read Mitchell Lyne’s News Story #1:

Click here to read Mitchell Lyne’s News Story #2

 

 

 

 

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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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Pre-transplant dinner.

Five days before T-Day (transplant day), Mitchell Lyne met his kidney donor, Jessica. The Lyne family, more than a dozen people deep, showed up to meet this living angel. Jessica’s husband came too, who is a silent hero in the situation…supporting his wife when many partners might not be able to handle or accept such a courageous and selfless act.

I sat next to Mrs. Lyne at dinner and could see the look of shock in her eyes ~ not quite wrapping her head around how a stranger came forward to save her young son’s life. But what was even stronger behind Mrs. Lyne’s glasses was a reflection of hope, she’s never lost hope.

Mitchell’s Grandpa said he’s been praying for a healthy kidney. ‘It was God’s plan,’ he explained.”

Here are a few photos from the family-style dinner.

Much love,

Mary Beth

Mitchell and his 3rd kidney donor, Jessica.

Mr. & Mrs. Lyne, Mitchell and Jessica.

Mitchell’s sister and 1st kidney donor Stacey, and Mitchell.

Mitchell’s #1 Fans!

Savemitchell.com Founder Mary Beth, Jessica, and Mitchell.

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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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Saving grace.

Mrs. Lyne: Mitchell is the sickest he’s ever been.

Mary Beth: Wait, you mean, even dating back 11 years…to when he was 8-years-old and needed his first kidney transplant?

Mrs. Lyne: Yes.

That dialogue practically took my breath away.

But, but…how could this be? We just saw him posing in a tuxedo, looking super sharp, for his senior prom. And then standing next to his Grand Daddy on high school graduation, smiling bright. How could he be that sick?

When his potassium and hemoglobin levels dropped last week, the poor fella had to have two blood transfusions. Blood work results came back today, and while the potassium is up a bit, he has not been able to eat *any* food. So hopefully prednisone will do the trick, help the organ inflamation go down, and ultimately help him hold solid food down.

Today was a whirlwind. As his Mother recounted the details to me, I was out of breath just listening to the story. In short, Mitchell’s team of doctors changed their mind a few times. One moment the plan would be to stay put, take the meds, and watch what happens. Another moment, he was ordered to go to the hospital “within the hour” for a possible surgery, and the next…they’re told a living kidney donor has come forward.

A sweet, selfless soul has stepped up to the plate to donate their kidney; this person doesn’t even know Mitchell but is a friend of a friend of a friend. This person doesn’t match Mitchell, so has offered to donate their kidney to a stranger on the waiting list {this is known as an altruistic donation}. By doing so, Mitchell is automatically bumped up to the #1 spot on the kidney waiting list.

This is HUGE. Really, really big news. But he won’t be completely out of the woods yet. You see, because of his complex situation, it will take a very unique kidney to be compatible with his system. Regardless though…putting him at the tippy top could literally be a life saver. A saving grace.

Another insight that put things into perspective was when Mrs. Lyne said the doctor said they’ll let him have a cadaver kidney from a deceased donor. Originally this wasn’t permitted because of Mitchell’s sensitive case {living organs last longer than cadaver organs — and the more transplants you have, the harder it is to make them successful}, but evidently because he is not doing well, the medical team’s point of view is, “we’ll do whatever we need to do to save his life.”

So please keep Mitchell in your thoughts and prayers. Send him your love and support. And as always, consider donating through a dollar, getting tested to be a kidney donor, delivering dinner to the family, or purchasing a SAVE MITCHELL t-shirt. Tomorrow is never guaranteed for any of us, so live today to the fullest.

Much love,

Mary Beth

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