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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.

glory days

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.

fistula

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.

clinic

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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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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The amazing kidney

Just a little bit about what the kidney’s do and how they work….. THEY ARE AMAZING!

Kidneys don’t always get the respect they deserve. Maybe, it’s because they’re relatively small. Maybe, it’s because when they’re functioning normally, we simply take them for granted. But, kidneys are truly impressive and the more you learn, the more you’ll understand why you want to help keep them healthy.

Another word for kidney is renal. You may hear your doctor talk about renal function or read materials that mention renal failure. Whenever you see or hear the word renal, you will know the subject is about kidneys.

Location and description

The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs about five-inches long, three-inches wide and one-inch thick located in your back on each side of your spine. Each kidney is about the size of a fist and weighs from four to six ounces. They are situated above your waist, with the left kidney a little higher and a little larger. The right kidney is a little lower and smaller to make room for the liver. The lower ribs protect your kidneys.

Inside the kidneys are nephrons. These are tiny units where the filtering of excess fluids and dissolved particles occurs. There are between 1.0 and 1.3 million nephrons in each kidney.

What kidneys do

Most people think their kidneys are just responsible for producing urine, but there’s a lot more to it. In addition to removing extra fluid and water from your body, kidneys:
■Filter the blood
■Balance fluid content in the body
■Produce the enzyme renin that helps control blood pressure
■Produce the hormone erythropoietin to help make red blood cells
■Activate vitamin D to maintain healthy bones
■Adjust levels of minerals and other chemicals to keep the body working properly

How kidneys do their jobs

The basic function of kidneys begins when you eat and drink. After the body takes the nutrients it needs, the extras become wastes. Some of the waste winds up in the blood and needs to be filtered out. The blood gets circulated through the body with every beat of the heart. It’s the job of the kidneys—with their millions of nephrons—to filter and clean out the blood and remove the extra fluids. The extra fluid and waste becomes urine and travels from the kidneys down the ureters to the bladder until eliminated through the urethra.

Removing waste is only one job of the kidneys. In addition to filtering, the kidneys monitor the levels of chemicals, salts and acids in the blood. Inside the nephrons are sensors that keep track of sodium, phosphorus, calcium and potassium. When levels are high, the kidneys signal to remove the excess from your blood for elimination.

Another important job of the kidneys is to monitor and regulate certain body functions. An enzyme called renin is secreted by the kidneys to control blood pressure. A hormone called erythropoietin tells the bone marrow to make red blood cells, and one called calcitriol helps to keep bones strong.

Inside the kidneys

Inside each kidney is approximately one million tiny filtering units called nephrons. Each nephron has a glomerulus and tubules. The glomerulus is a series of specialized capillary loops where water and small particles are filtered from the blood. The waste and extra fluids then travel through the tube-like structure of the tubules where several processes take place to turn those fluids into urine. The tubules lead to the collecting duct where the urine is drained into a funnel-shaped sac called the renal pelvis. Each kidney has a ureter that connects the renal pelvis to the bladder. The urine from the kidneys flows down the ureters into the bladder and is then passed out of the body through the urethra.

Summary

It is amazing when you think of everything the kidneys do for the body. It’s even more amazing that some people are born with only one kidney and it does a fine job of filtering blood, producing urine and regulating certain functions all by itself. There are situations when kidneys can no longer perform their job, which leads to kidney failure. We are fortunate, however, to live in a time when treatments such as dialysis and kidney transplant will keep the body alive after kidneys stop functioning.

Save Mitchell

If you would like to consider making the ultimate gift to Mitchell, the gift of life, please click here for information on how to get tested.

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Beautiful, beautiful

This piece of music is single-handedly the most inspiring, humbling, and influential I’ve heard in my entire life. Every single time it plays on stereo speakers, I literally stop what I’m doing at the moment, and be still. I close my eyes, soak in the beauty of this heartsong, and feel sunshine…even on a cloudy day.

The lyrics speak to my soul.

The instrumentals make my eyes water.

The meaning resonates with my faith.

I first heard the term heartsong from a sick little boy named Mattie. He shared his story on the Oprah show. I’ll never, ever forget him. His courage, his strength, his peace, his poems. I pray that even on Mitchell’s darkest, hardest, most challenging day, he feels sunshine on his face from the love and support that showers him.

Please enjoy my favorite heartsong. Click here to listen: Beautiful, beautiful by Francesca Battistelli

Much love,

Mary Beth

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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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