This is my Uncle Randy. Doesn't he look like a nice guy? He is. :)
He also has a kidney disease that has devastated his kidney function. It's been monitored for years, but over the course of 2009, the deterioration began to demand attention as it accelerated. By early summer it became clear that he would need a transplant soon.
Randy is the youngest of 6. My dad is his second oldest brother. The best matches for a transplant usually come within a family, so my aunts and uncles each called the Cleveland Clinic and, for various reasons, were each turned down. Only one person made it past the initial interview to the blood work evaluation. When his results did not create a match, everyone felt a heavy sense of disappointment.
Randy and his wife Tina have three girls. This whole process has been emotionally hard on all of them.
After the family was ruled out, Randy began to share his need with friends, co-workers, and neighbors. As hard as it was to ask his brothers and sisters to consider donating, asking outside the family was even harder. But the support began to trickle in. Then it began to pour in. Then it began to flood...but I'm getting ahead of myself.
Though the ultimate goal for Randy is a transplant, the reality is that his kidneys are failing now. Without a donor, he has to start dialysis. About two weeks ago he had surgery to insert a port in his stomach that will allow him to do the dialysis at home. By changing a bag a couple of times a day, he can maintain a fairly normal life. He'll keep this up until a donor comes available.
It's been several months since this process of finding a donor kicked into high gear. Randy has waited nine weeks for information he was told would take four to six. Emotions among his family have run dramatically from high hope to frustration and deep disappointment. Worry and fear have been tough to fight. Yet they continued to pray and believe that God had something big in store.
Yesterday Randy called to tell me that he'd received word from 5 people that they matched.
And yet every time we prayed for him, we had asked God for "a donor". How small we think!
It's an amazing story, but it doesn't stop there. One of the matches is his wife Tina. The other four are friends. Somehow they have to decide which person they should go forward with. Last night Randy got another phone call.... from match number SIX!
He called me again this morning with the news of that conversation. She's a 27 year old mom of two. She's also the niece of guy Randy went to elementary school with. Sometime a few months ago, a woman who knows our family and goes to this lady's church, asked her prayer group to pray for Randy. The group prayed and this precious mom began to feel a tug on her heart. She spoke with her uncle about Randy, talked it over with her husband, and then made the call to Cleveland Clinic.
Yesterday, she learned that she's a match. She doesn't even know Randy.
I want to meet her. I want to hug her and thank her. She's doing what so many of us tried but couldn't do. You can't make yourself a match no matter how much you want to. You can't get around the team's standard procedures no matter how much you disagree with them. Nothing you can do makes you the perfect candidate. She is what I couldn't be.
There's such joy and relief in knowing Randy has a donor. The processes were drawn out because so many people called CC to be considered. In fact, the average patient has about 4 people who get as far as the blood work evaluation and continue. The most any patient at CC had before Randy was 12. He was told he blew that number out of the water. In fact, so many people called the Clinic on his behalf that they began turning folks away. His pastor's wife called three times and was told there was at least a three week waiting period...just to get started. The coordinator who took her call even asked if Randy was a local celebrity! That many people had called and yet his situation hadn't even been formally announced to his church family. They were holding off because the CC asked them to. There's a lot of folks in northeast Ohio (and in central Virginia) who love my uncle and his family! How true Psalm 30 rings that "joy comes in the morning"!
20Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.