Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Transplant Day!

Monday, April 20 - the day all of us as family, and especially Crystal and Amy, had been waiting for! It was a day greatly anticipated, and also a day that we approached with apprehension. It would bring the much needed kidney transplant for Crystal, but it would also bring surgery, pain, and recovery for both Crystal and Amy. But we all knew that we would not be alone - we had the promises and presence of God to carry us through all that lay ahead.

Crystal was admitted into the hospital on Saturday morning, April 18 ... and the next day (Sunday, April 19) Gary and I, together with Amy, checked into the nearby Residence Inn so that we would be close to Medical City Hospital for Amy's early entrance to the hospital the following morning. It worked out perfectly, and we made the 5-minute drive to the hospital very early (5:30 am) on Monday morning, April 20, with no problems at all. 

Amy reported to Day Surgery on 2nd floor to be prepped for surgery, and then was taken to the Holding area at about 6:35 am. We were able to be with her until about 7:30 am when she was taken for surgery. Amy was so brave and sweet through every step of the day, as she has been from the beginning of her decision to donate one of her kidneys to Crystal. It was such a priceless blessing for us as parents to be by her side. 

Crystal had already been admitted to the hospital on Saturday morning, two days before the surgery. She, as well, was brave and courageous even as she faced surgery, held up by God's peace and strength through her two-year journey of kidney failure. Her surgery was scheduled for 8 am, but was actually delayed until about 9:20 am because of a mixup in scheduling of the anesthesiologist. And we think that Amy's actual surgery was probably delayed a bit, as well, to keep the timing of the two surgeries just right for transplant.

It was quite a morning for us as family who were waiting while the surgeries were going on. Two precious family members in surgery at the same time ... a sweet daughter in one surgery room, and a sweet granddaughter in another. On the same floor, with surgery rooms near to each other. So much emotion with our hearts and prayers focused on two different loved ones going through kidney surgery at the same time. Amy's left kidney would be removed to donate to Crystal, and then taken on ice directly to Crystal's surgery room. Crystal's right diseased kidney would be removed, and she would be ready to receive Amy's kidney into her lower right abdominal area at just the right point.

We received texts on the progress of each surgery, and also kept watch on the screen in the waiting room showing what stage of surgery they were each in. The method of showing which stage of surgery was with a symbol - so we saw either the symbol of a knife, some stitches, or a bandaid. (We heard later that they are planning to change the use of the knife symbol to something else - and we thought that would be a good idea!) We all waited in the same waiting room for the first part of surgery, but then we needed to move to separate waiting rooms in order to keep receiving notices of the progress. Mark & Cristy & Abigail needed to be in the pediatric surgery waiting room, and Gary and I in the adult surgery waiting room. These two waiting rooms were just down the hall from each other, so we could still keep in contact with each other as family without a lot of difficulty.

Amy's surgery was started at about 8:30 am, and Crystal's at about 9:20 am. We received a text message at about 10:45 am that Amy's kidney was about to be transplanted into Crystal! We were amazed that things could be moving that quickly, that the transplant was actually taking place! So amazing and so incredible - and so emotional for us as we waited together as family! We were filled with thanks to God for His provision of a healthy kidney for Crystal Mae.

Shortly after, there was a bit of confusion for those of us in the waiting room as we were watching the progress on the waiting room screen ... as it looked like Amy was back in surgery after having been in the recovery room for a bit. And as we heard later from the doctor, that is exactly what happened! Dr. Aronoff remembered that there was one more procedure he likes to do for thinner, petite patients, and so Amy needed to receive a bit more anesthesia, and be taken back into the surgery room for some more stitching on an inner layer of muscle. We are so thankful that doctor made the effort to take care of this step.

Because of that bit of delay for Amy, Crystal was done with surgery and was moved out of surgery ahead of Amy. After their surgeries, Crystal was moved directly into  pediatric ICU at about 12:30 noon, and Amy was moved from the recovery room to her room on 8th floor at about 2 pm.

How we thank God for the good reports from the doctors - both surgeries went very well, and Crystal's new kidney from Amy began working well right from the start!!! How amazing!! You can read much more on Crystal's CaringBridge site, where Cristy so beautifully shares interesting detail about transplant day.

As time allows, I'll continue on with more posts about the days following the actual transplant day. This has been such an anticipated event for our granddaughter (and for all of us as family), and recording this journey is one way for us as grandparents to preserve our memories, emotions, and details of all that happened during transplant. We are filled with thanks to God, and also filled with thanks for all of our friends and family who are praying for our family throughout this transplant journey. Thank you so much - we are blessed by you, and are so very thankful for God's provision, love, and care! So much emotion as we anticipated transplant day, and so much emotion as we continue on. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Crystal Admitted to Hospital

How can we be such privileged grandparents, and parents? To be the grama and grampa for sweet Crystal, and the mom and dad for our sweet Amy is definitely a priceless blessing. They are each so selfless, and uncomplaining as they both await surgery on Monday morning. We thank God for filling them both with His love and grace. 

Crystal was admitted to the hospital this morning, and she together with her loving mom, our dear Cristy, settled into the room where Crystal will rest and be monitored as she waits for Transplant Day on Monday. In the photo above, you see Gary and me, together with Amy, as we visited them this afternoon. Click here to read Cristy's update on their CaringBridge site this afternoon.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Reminders to Wait Quietly

These words from Psalm 62 have been on my mind these past few days - the days leading up to Crystal's transplant surgery and Amy's surgery to donate. There are so many things that are on our minds as the day approaches - details about upcoming surgeries and hospital stays, learning of many details of our care for Mark & Cristy's family and home during hospital days. And the state of our hearts and minds is often quite the opposite of "quiet".

And I love these words that remind us ...

Let all that I am wait quietly before God ...

I've actually been repeating these words (and others) over and over in my mind at times throughout the few days that we have been here. And I also need to purposefully pull out my journal periodically throughout each day, and write out my thoughts and my prayers. A practice that helps quiet my heart, pulling me aside to keep my focus in the right place.

We spent six hours at Medical City Hospital yesterday with Cristy, Crystal, and Amy. All the pre-op and pre-admit paperwork, lab work, and doctor appointments took place for both Crystal and Amy. It was also a time for Gary and me to get acquainted with the hospital, and meet some of the doctors. 

Today is a quieter day at the house, preparing for Crystal to be admitted to the hospital tomorrow morning on Saturday. And then on Sunday early afternoon Gary & I, and Amy will check into a motel near the hospital. Amy will be admitted at 5:30 am on Monday morning, and we want to be close by. No time to take any chances of delays in driving to the hospital  ... being close is best.

Click here for Cristy's latest update on Crystal's CaringBridge site to read more details of our six hours at Medical City Hospital yesterday ...

Thanks for your prayers and love for our family. And praise to God for the news just this morning that the "cross-match" lab work done yesterday reveals a "green light" for transplant. Confirming again that Amy is a great match to donate for Crystal.

Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
for my hope is in Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress where I will not be shaken.
My victory and honor come from God alone.
He is my refuge, a rock
where no enemy can reach me.
O my people, trust in Him at all times.
Pour out your heart to Him,
for God is our refuge.
(Psalm 62:5-8)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Starting Out on the Transplant Journey

This journey to our granddaughter's kidney transplant actually started a little over two years ago, when Crystal was diagnosed with a rare genetic kidney disease. We all knew back then that though there was no cure for this disease which would lead to her kidneys failing sometime during her teen years, there was something that could rescue her, a lifeline of sorts - a kidney transplant.

For two years, you (our friends and family) have been updated on how Crystal is doing through Crystal's CaringBridge site, through our monthly newsletters, and as we have met and shared our lives in person. Maybe we have sounded like a broken record for these two years, continually asking for prayer. For Gary and me, it has been an all-consuming thing always on our minds - in the midst of a very full life of Cru ministry, and a full life with our family of 22 (our six grown children, four sons-in-law, and ten grandkids!), and also during the past six months of helping care for our aging (Siebert) father. Thanks for always listening and caring, and for being forgiving to us if we have talked about this or written about this too much at times!

And now the time of transplant is here ... tomorrow we make the 12-hour drive to Dallas, also taking Amy along (our oldest daughter who is the amazing, generous kidney donor for Crystal). We'll be staying with Cristy & Mark and their family, and will have a few days all together in their home before Crystal will be admitted to the hospital this Saturday morning, and then Amy very early this next Monday morning. They also both have some pre-op testing this Thursday, and the actual transplant will take place on Monday morning, April 20th.

You are invited to read the very detailed updates of transplant and recovery on Crystal's CaringBridge site. Cristy does an amazing job of keeping family and friends updated through this site. We would love for you to follow her updates!

There is no need for us to repeat here what our daughter Cristy is doing so well on the CaringBridge site. She will be sharing many of the details of transplant surgery and recovery, as well as asking for prayer along the way. But this place here will be our own online journal of sorts, sharing our thoughts along the journey, asking for prayer from our perspective. Our days will be full serving our TX family, and also caring for Amy through surgery and recovery ... so we are not sure how often we will be able to write here. But as writing is part of living and breathing for me (Cherry), I'm sure you will see us here quite often! 

Feel free to respond or ask questions along the way ... through comments here or on facebook as we link our posts there. We both know that this is not a road to be walked alone ... we are in need of God's mercy and strength each day of our lives. And we are so appreciative of our friends and family who pray for us. Thank you for being part of this journey together with us.

I (Cherry) read these words yesterday, and they comforted me and encouraged me as we step into these days/weeks of caring for our family during transplant ...

The Lord will guide you always;
He will satisfy your needs
in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
(Isaiah 58:11)