Editor's note: I have the privilege of communicating with World Vision supporters every day, and I am constantly amazed and humbled by their larger-than-life hearts, generosity, and desire to truly make a difference in our world. Many of them are parents, athletes, or students — donors and beneficiaries of charitable work in this country and others. About a year ago, I stumbled upon a blog post from Amanda, a World Vision sponsor, Caregiver Kit assembler, and living organ donor to her stepson. She has rewritten her post here. As her story has encouraged and reminded me of the power of great faith, I hope it does the same for you.
I am a wife, stepmom, second-grade teacher, and woman of faith. On April 26, 2010, I was blessed to be a living donor for my 17-year-old stepson’s liver transplant.
This story begins in June 2002, when my youngest stepson, Cayden, was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, an incurable inflammatory bowel disease. At the time, he was hit with a double whammy — primary sclerosing cholangitis, a rare and also incurable secondary auto-immune disease of the liver where the bile ducts cause increased scarring in the liver, leading to the eventual need for a liver transplant.
I remember being told about living donation by doctors at the time. I knew I was O+ blood type universal. I privately wondered whether this was the reason why God brought me into my husband’s life, and perhaps why I was never able to have children of my own, but I never told anyone about those thoughts.
Eight years later, in February 2010, dangerous internal bleeding landed Cayden and our family 800 miles away from our home at Stanford University’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in California. We were told it was time for him to be put on the transplant list. At this point, we were again encouraged to investigate living donation.
Two days after the transplant, Amanda and Cayden see each other for the first time. (Photo courtesy of Amanda Luce)
Although my husband, Dan, shared the same blood type as Cayden, he was rejected as a donor. I told him that I wanted to go through the work up to see if I was a match for him. We soon returned home, and just one week after the extensive medical testing, we found out that I had been accepted. With the transplant date set, my own fears started to set in as we started preparing to leave our home and jobs for up to 100 days to return to California for the transplant.
My sister-in-law and her family live just 10 minutes from Stanford, so we were grateful for family support and a place to stay. The day prior to the transplant, we were really missing our home church, so Dan and I headed to his sister’s church, Menlo Park Presbyterian, to help out with their Compassion Weekend. I can't think of a better way to spend the Sunday before surgery than helping to assemble World Vision (my favorite charity) Caregiver Kits for those affected by the 2010 quake in Haiti.
As I walked through the kit assembly line, adding items like gloves, soap, and washcloths to the bright orange drawstring bag, the tears started to flow. As we prayed over the pallets of kits, I started to sob uncontrollably. How blessed and fortunate are we to live in a nation where we have access to healthcare, and where it is possible for doctors to give life to Cayden by giving him part of my liver?!
I also thought about our World Vision sponsored child, Mpho, from Lesotho in Africa. Because of our sponsorship, he was able to receive the medical attention he needed several years ago to cure a problem with one of his eyes. We have so many advantages in our country, which many of us take for granted. As Mpho’s sponsor, he has allowed us to share our blessings with him so he can go to school and live a healthy life, too, and I am grateful we are in a position to do so.
Amanda and Cayden, eight months after the transplant. (Photo courtesy of Amanda Luce)
On surgery morning, I made certain that both Cayden and I had our prayer shawls that had been lovingly presented to us on Easter Sunday by our home church. The post-operation week was a blur, but the transplant was successful. After 71 days of temporarily living in the Palo Alto area, we were finally released to go home.
Now, a little over eight months post-transplant, both of us are doing wonderfully. Apparently, my liver loves its new home! That’s not to say there haven’t been a few bumps along the way. Without his spleen, Cayden is more susceptible than the normal person to all of the “bugs” in the air — his body isn’t able to fight them on its own. Fortunately, there have been no other major issues. We are in awe of the literally thousands of people who prayed for us throughout the transplant process, both known to us and unknown. Truly the power of God has revealed itself in our lives through this life event. I can confidently say we’ll never be the same again. Thanks be to God!
This was rewritten by Amanda Luce, age 42, Lakewood, Washington on January 10, 2011.
We want to hear your World Vision story. E-mail us at WVfamily@worldvision.org.