save mitchell

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

Third time is a charm.

The last few months have had lots of highs and an equal amount of lows.

For starters, I finally got to meet Mitchell in person! Well technically I met him when he was 8-years-old, but a lot has changed in 11 years. His parents and I chit chatted away at a diner, while Mitchell stayed quiet for the most part. When he did chime in though, boy was I laughing. The guy has a great sense of humor, and his smile was even brighter in person.

I was blown away when it was time to eat, and a baggy of pills came out. These meds are just another piece of the puzzle that keeps him breathing, and keeps us hoping that a selfless kidney donor will step up to the plate and save his life. The trooper takes dozens and dozens of pills every single day; they put my vitamin intake to shame. By the time I snapped this shot, he had already swallowed a mouthful.

Mitchell recently went to his senior Prom! Although initially apprehensive, friends and students encouraged him to attend. Men’s Warehouse was nice enough to donate his sharp-looking tux. Of course Mitchell picked Tarheel Blue as a nod to his favorite North Carolina basketball team. They had a fun night and his Mom was patiently waiting for a call to come pick him up, assuming he wouldn’t feel very well or make it out too late. She was wrong! Mitchell experienced an unusual second wind and hung out with fellow graduates all night long.

Around this time, Mitchell and his Mom made a road trip to visit his Grandparents down south. The trip was monumental because it would be the first time they’d be managing his dialysis treatments remotely / away from home. Everything was going well until the very end. Because of complications, they had to stay over a few extra days until they stabilized him, then headed home.

For several weeks Mitchell’s Mom was getting frustrated because the dialysis machine wasn’t working properly. It seemed as though too much fluid was being removed from him, which caused nausea and an upset stomach / unable to hold food down. Thankfully they were eventually able to have a new machine replaced by the clinic…and things appeared to be getting better.

Then, on a perfectly routine day, while Mrs. Lyne was going about her daily errands — her car was hit — hard. It wasn’t pretty. She suffered several injuries and has been in physical therapy ever since. Most folks could take medication to help alleviate the pain , but not her.

“I need to be available for Mitchell in the middle of the night to check on dialysis treatments, so I can’t afford to be knocked out on pain pills.”

And that, my friends, is why we call her an Angel on earth. She always puts others first, even at her own expense.

As with most car insurance claims, of course this experience wasn’t a pleasant one. It took over a week to get the paperwork processed and car value assessment. The rental car was only approved for a short amount of time, and finding a replacement for their truck wasn’t looking promising. You see, this particular SUV was perfect for transporting Mitchell to and from doctor’s appointments, dialysis clinic visits, and filling prescriptions.

“It rides so smooth. So even if Mitchell wasn’t feeling well, the car ride wouldn’t make him more uncomfortable.”

Mrs. Lyne was really disappointed for this loss, not to mention it’s extremely important in her business — landscaping. This was a double-whammy.

Being out of work due to her injuries means she isn’t making money to support her family, and summertime is the one season she is normally guaranteed work. Losing the transportation vehicle to bring Mitchell in for doctor’s check-ups AND unable to use her trusted vehicle for landscaping supplies was a grim reality.

But by the grace of God, a kind-hearted man learned about the Lyne’s circumstances and cut them a break. They now have another SUV and are grateful to be back up and running.

 

Last week, Mitchell graduated from high school. What an awesome, awesome day. He worked diligently with a tutor and earned every piece of that 11×18 diploma. Although home schooled for the better part of the last few years, his classmates have cheered him on from the sidelines, even posting banners and posters around school with encouraging words of support. Here he is standing next to a very proud Grandfather.

Now, exactly 8 days later, he is laying in a hospital bed. Welcome to the world of a young man fighting for his life, and waking up every morning not knowing what to expect.

Earlier this week, his hemoglobin and potassium numbers were decreasing — which left him feeling very ill. Then yesterday tests were run and the numbers continued to go down, so he was immediately admitted and told he’d need a blood transfusion. While this is a necessary procedure to keep our courageous fighter alive, unfortunately it also means he’ll have a tougher time getting a living kidney donor. The transfusion lasted until 3am, and 5 short hours later, this morning was scheduled to see Gastroenterology specialists and determine if he has internal bleeding.

It seems fitting that I’m scheduled to donate blood this Tuesday. I try to go regularly, and not let time lapse between the minimum amount of time I’m allowed to give, approximately every 50 days. When I’m laying in that chair, I’ll think of Mitchell and hope that others are out there doing the same — saving a life by such a simple act.

Another way to help is to purchase a SAVE MITCHELL t-shirt. For each one sold, $15 is donated to help off-set his medical expenses. Click here to learn more about how buying and wearing a shirt will help you raise awareness for Mitchell and his journey of keeping hope alive.

Please continue to keep Mitchell, his Mother, Father, and siblings in your thoughts and prayers. The road doesn’t get any easier, and life has a way of keeping us on our tippy toes. While most high school graduates are enjoying their summer, and anticipating the milestone of college around the corner, Mitchell is strictly focused on his health. He’s decided to forgo pursuing college until a shiny new organ is in his abdomen. When the day comes, it will be his third donated kidney.

As they say — third time is a charm!

Much love,

Mary Beth

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Going the extra mile

Mitchell had it pretty rough the last week & a half. “When it rains, it pours” was evidently the theme.

First, the surgery to have a dialysis port inserted into his abdomen was painful, as expected. But then he suffered from severe pain in his shoulder (air got in during surgery)…and the heating pad to help alleviate the discomfort ultimately caused 2nd degree burns!

Thankfully he received some medication to help heal burn inflamation, and the port wound is getting better too.

He is slated to begin receiving dialysis treatments on March 12. In the meantime, the family karts back and forth to the dialysis center every week. Once 3/12 rolls around, the Lyne’s will be trained at the center for one week… to eventually give the treatments at home.

Today was particularly hard because a relentless headache, which started yesterday, wouldn’t budge. He asked for over-the-counter medication for some relief. To give you some context, he has had about 6 Tylenol pills in his entire life. In other words, he is naturally tough and never complains. Hopefully Mitchell will feel better soon!

It didn’t even occur to me until talking to his Mom that the rising gas prices must put a huge dent on their wallets. It is 50 miles roundtrip to the dialysis center, and over 20 miles to the hospital for check-ups. Add that all together and we’re talking hundreds of dollars.

If you’d like to contribute any amount of money to help offset the expenses of commuting trip gas (rising 20 more cents per gallon by this weekend), please click here for an easy PayPal Donation. If you don’t already have a PayPal account, it’s free and simple to create one.

The Lyne family have not asked for anything other than prayers, but sometimes… going the extra mile involves giving in more ways than one. In this case ~ gasoline.

Much love,

Mary Beth

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Prayer request

My heart breaks this morning as Mitchell heads BACK to MCV.

He’s going to the ER to have a few things assessed; he’s in a lot of pain.  Mitchell has many underlying conditions and one is osteoporosis.  This can cause joint and muscle pain, and makes him susceptible to other orthopedic injuries.

During his surgery on Monday, they had his body in many awkward positions in order to perform the procedure [a port was placed in his abdomen so he can begin dialysis].  Since his surgery, he’s had severe shoulder pain.  The doctors think that he may have sustained an injury from his surgery.

To help with some of the his post-operative pain, Mitchell used a heating pad on his back.  Unfortunately, his skin is extremely sensitive, so the heating pad caused burns and blisters–maybe as severe as 2nd degree burns!  So this morning, Mitchell makes the painful trip to the VCU Health Center’s emergency room to endure more testing!

Please pray for my brother, and for our heart-broken mother who stays helplessly by his side!

In His name,

Stacey

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Mitchell’s story

I’ve been a distant passenger alongside Mitchell’s journey since 2001, when he first showed symptoms of kidney failure. However after reading Mitchell’s first person essay, I got a greater glimpse into his symptoms, surgeries, and complications.

| Friends, this is what resiliency looks like |

Much love,

Mary Beth

written by Mitchell Lyne, June 2011

Read the rest of this entry »

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Benevolence

| 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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