In 2001, I was diagnosed with life-threatening cancer. Six years later, after I had regained my strength, my husband went into kidney failure and was in need of a kidney transplant. It was this past week in 2007 that my husband received a kidney from a wonderful friend and sister in Christ, Vaughn.
In January of 2007, my husband was told his creatinine was nearing 11 and it was time to go on dialysis. He had been experiencing progressive kidney failure over the previous 10 + years. Tony had diabetes and that was the reason we were told his kidneys had started to fail.
The news was devastating. Tony met with a transplant team in Wechester, NY and I remember the surgeon telling Tony, “You need to tell people you need a kidney. They won’t be able to help you if they don’t know. The body only needs one kidney to thrive and survive, so God gave us one kidney to live on and the other to share with someone else. You need to get the word out.”
This was not easy for Tony to hear, because he is a giver and has a hard time receiving. He couldn’t fathom asking anyone for anything, let alone a part of their body.
“No greater love has a man than this, than to lay down his life for his friend.”
We called our friend and pastor and asked him to let the congregation know that Tony needed a kidney. That Sunday at church, Pastor Ray announced that Tony needed a kidney – if everyone could keep that in prayer.
Meanwhile, the first dialysis appointment was scheduled. I drove my husband to the building. I will never forget the feeling of despair that came over me – I’m sure it was magnified for my husband. To think your life depended on a machine in a block building about 15 miles away from home. The place seemed like prison, even though it was offering life to my husband. I left Tony – I was not allowed to stay – and hopped in my car and drove to a Walmart parking lot and sobbed. There was not anything I could do to keep my husband from going through this. I had absolutely no control. I cried out to God, not knowing what lay ahead for us. It was devastating to watch my loved one go through such pain.
We started getting calls from people at church and family, “I want to get tested to see if I’m a match for Tony.” Call after call – 43 people offered their life to help save my husband’s. The final call was Vaughn. Westchester told us that Tony needed to make a decision, they didn’t want to test any additional people. We said we had one more person to bring down. When Vaughn called she said, “Lisa, I know I’m Tony’s match. I just know it.” And she was a match.
After many tests and much preparation, the surgery was scheduled. Tony had been on dialysis for 4 months and his body was not taking it well. The surgery couldn’t come soon enough. I’ll never forget the waiting room before the surgery. Vaughn and her husband Brett, Tony and myself were all together. Vaughn and Tony were laying on stretchers with their gowns and hats. Tony was laying on his back – tired and nervous. Vaughn was laying on her side, laughing, smiling, talkative, and excited – like a kid going to a carnival. Vaughn said she never had any doubt about what she was doing and she couldn’t do it soon enough. She was the ‘poster child’ of a cheerful giver. Not once did she exhibit regret or worry. She made Tony and I feel so at ease, so blessed.
“There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.”
The surgery went well, Vaughn was released from the hospital the second day. Tony stayed about a week. Four years later, the kidney is functioning perfectly and my husband – and our family -have a renewed ‘lease’ on life.
I can’t thank God enough for Vaughn. She sacrificed her body so that Tony would live. Her attitude puts me on my knees. I am so humbled by her generous heart. You will hear Vaughn say, “I wish I had another kidney to give to someone.”
And I can’t thank God enough for the other 42 people that were ready to stand in the gap and lay their life down for my husband.