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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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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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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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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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Savemitchell.com shirts sold!

We’ve sold not one but TWO batches of SaveMitchell.com t-shirts. Each one costs $25 ~ $15 goes directly to helping keep our brave hero alive. What a great idea ~ you donate to dialysis supplies that helps Mitchell wake up each morning as he waits for a kidney donor, and you also get a fashionable, comfortable t-shirt.

How it works: Our fund must sell 50 shirts in 50 days for the fundraiser to be completed. Once we hit # 50, credit cards are charged, shirts are printed, then shipped to those who purchased. The clock resets and the whole process starts over.

To date, due to this initiative, we’ve donated $1,500! Let’s keep it going, and keep hope alive.

Get your own t-shirt by clicking here, or gift one to a person you love in honor of Mitchell.

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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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