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Monday, February 22, 2016

An Announcment I am not too comfortable making...

What you are about to read is difficult for me to write. For one, I just simply don’t feel comfortable bringing attention to myself in this regard and the other reason is it really is not about me. The reality is that the news is out there and I thought it was important for you, my friends, to know what is going on in our lives. It is my hope that you will hold us up in prayer and support during this time. So please indulge me while I take a moment to ramble and shoot from my heart. 

My personal thoughts are that this life was never meant to be lived in so much comfort that we become blind to the hurting of our world. Like the parable of the Good Samaritan it is important that we do not become so busy, complacent or uncompassionate that we walk by opportunities that we can have a positive impact on. This is not easy but I believe it is a part of the Christian walk. If Jesus was willing to lay down his life for us, then we too must be willing to do the same for others. All of us in this life take calculated risks for what we feel important. Take for example driving to work. Each day, we hop into our cars and risk life and limb to get to work. Why? Because providing shelter, warmth, food and a future for ourselves and our families are worth that risk. How about sports we enjoy? I love to ski and many of you do to but the reality is that it can be dangerous. We take that risk because it is a calculated risk. The pleasure and enjoyment it brings to our lives is worth it. Sometime we choose to suffer temporarily to obtain something we view as having value for the future. Examples: exercise, training for a marathon, or putting aside immediate pleasures to invest in a future retirement or save for a rainy day. The end results make it worth the temporary suffering of the moment. Life is short. I hope we all have come to some understanding of that. What we do with our time and short lives has value now and for the future of those we leave behind. 

Well there is my introduction to the motivation and what follows is the why and how. A few weeks ago I sent this letter to my family and a few others who would be impacted by the news. The following is a little modified for better understanding but keeps the original essence of the original letter. Thank you for joining us in this journey and feel free to write me if you have any concerns or questions. I have been so blessed to be surrounded with so many of you who have expressed their care, support and love for us. This choice literally takes a village as the saying goes. 

Dear Friends,
I wanted to keep you in the loop with something that is going on in my life. About two years ago a dear friend and father of six and someone I hold in the highest esteem, was diagnosed with liver disease and was placed on the donor waiting list for a transplant. In the last few years, he has battled the symptoms and has ended up in the hospital many times battling for his life. A year ago I found out through Monique that I was the same blood type as Scott. After some prayer, I decided I should let him know that I was willing to become a live donor for him if it came down to it.

Around five months ago he went through a very bad episode and his doctor said it wasn't looking good for him to get a transplant on the waiting list and he should contact those who had offered to be a live donor. The reality was he might not live through the next episode. I was contacted and I told him I was still willing to go through the process. Three months ago, I called University Colorado Hospital and started the process of getting approved, I did labs, interviews and last week I spent two days at UCH Medical Hospital with Monique getting MRI's, Cat Scans, X-rays, blood tests, and meetings with numerous doctors, surgeons and social workers. Honestly, I didn't think I would pass the physical piece and be a match for him at my age. The vast majority of people get rejected for being a donor.

In my case, on Thursday, all my blood work and mental capability were approved by a hospital panel and on Friday they reviewed my body, intestinal and organ images etc. and I was deemed completely healthy. I was told I was approved and a match to be a live donor transplant for Scott. According to my live donor coordinator this is very rare. Without a transplant Scott will most likely die this year and leave six children fatherless and his lovely wife a widow.

I have taken this process very seriously considering all the possibilities that may result and have spent a lot of time in prayer (and few sleepless nights). Monique and I both agree that this is the right thing to do and worth the risks involved. So I have decided that I will be doing an elective surgery and donating my liver to Scott. It is not an easy one, it has risks, a 7-10-day recovery in the hospital and somewhere between two and three months’ recovery time for me. I will not be incapacitated during these three months but need to take it easy and it will be exhausting on me as my body regrows a new liver. I will be able to continue to do things and I plan on focusing home recovery time towards running Vision for the Children International and a few other things that I can do while sitting at a desk. Once I have recovered, there are no known long term issues for me and I will return to life physically as if it never happened. For Scott, it is the same but he will get another chance at life and his family will hopefully have a husband and father for many years to come. 

There is still a chance that Scott could get a cadaver liver while on the waiting list (he has been escalated to the top of the waiting list now) and that is preferred all around. The medical doctors will not allow me to proceed if one comes available (please pray this happens, it is the best option). If all continues as planned, I will be having the transplant surgery at University Colorado Hospital the third week of May and they are the best in the US. I will be treated with the best care and have a private nurse 24/7 monitoring my health and recovery while in the hospital. The liver is the only organ in your body that will complete renew itself. After they take 2/3 of my left liver lobe it will grow a completely new one in about 6 weeks. I will gain a nice scar under my rib cage that looks like a hockey stick about 5-6 inches long as the only reminder of the procedure. 

I have had a long time to process this and although I don't slightly want to go through the pain and discomfort of the process, I know it's the right thing to do and I am totally at peace with this decision. Monique also feels the same way about this and is at peace with this decision as well. Let me say that this goes far beyond Scotts and our friendship alone. I couldn’t imagine how painful it would be for his wife and their 6 children to lose him to so soon to death. This family has suffered so much all ready, from Scotts past fight with cancer, current liver disease and recently their oldest daughter nearly being killed in a car accident. I also can’t imagine how painful it is for his family to live day to day with a future full of so much uncertainty. The thought of me suffering for three months is nothing when compared to the hope of seeing a family restored and healed. I have been so blessed with my family and I have enjoyed a long enough life to see my children grow up an even enjoy a grandchild. I want Scott to have that experience as well. 

A major contributor to this whole process has been the love and support of Monique through all of it. This has been no small thing for her but in her words “The risks are worth the possibilities”. Without her approval and support of my decision this would not be a reality. She has been willing from the very start to do whatever is necessary to help support me.

There is still a lot to do before this can happen, work forms, Family Medical Leave, short term disability and fundraising to raise money for lost wages and income during the three months etc. I understand that this is all of a sudden but I wanted to write you so that each of you had time to process this. It was not my plan to keep it a secret from anyone but it did not make any sense to worry you with the slim chance I would be approved in the first place. 

Thanks you for your prayers and support in this.  My son is putting together a video interview shortly and there will be more posts  to follow as we journey through this together.

A recent picture of Scott and his beautiful family...