My Dad cried…

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My Dad cried…

When I asked my Dad the other day about my transplant he said the following  “I can easily talk about the facts of those few weeks, but I struggle to sum up my emotions. It was so hard, I just cried a lot. I had dedicated my whole life to protecting you and your sisters from harm. There you were hours from death and there was nothing I could do.”

As a parent, I can’t even imagine that feeling of helplessness. Of course he cried.

After that conversation, he sent me this reflection below. I’ll let him tell his story.

I can tell you many things about the dates and facts of Lisa’s August 13, 2000 emergency Liver Transplant.  I’d also like to reflect on some of my own emotions however. In a nutshell, I went from absolute despair, to hope, to rejoicing, over the course of just a few days.

Kath and I were initially told that Lisa had Hepatitis and that after a few days in the hospital she’d start to get better and return home.  Kath and I were shocked a day or two after admission when a pair of Transplant Physicians, Doctors Humar and Ramcharan, told us her lab values were continuing to worsen, and that she would likely need a Liver Transplant.  Hours later their prediction was confirmed.  Slurred speech and drowsiness were added to Lisa’s yellowish eyes and skin.  I sang a song called “I’m Trading My Sorrows” to her.  She smiled at my attempts, joined in as best she could, and shortly after, drifted into oblivion.

As the family protector I presented myself as a live-donor, but was rejected because of a fatty-liver condition I didn’t know I had.  Norm, Van, and Greg all considered donating half of their livers for Lisa, but the best candidate was determined to be our oldest daughter, Laura.  Kath and I objected to the prospect of two of our three daughters simultaneously undergoing major surgery, but Laura was adamant about trying to save her sister.

While she awaited surgery a breathing tube was inserted into Lisa’s throat to ensure an airway.  At one point, during a possible seizure, she bit down on the tube effectively blocking her own air supply.  I desperately massaged her jaw muscle to loosen her bite which is what my First Aid Training had taught, but it was to no avail.  Thank God, a Resident Physician was able to accomplish what I couldn’t!  That’s where the “despair” part came in.  I realized that in spite of all my emergency training and experience, there was absolutely nothing I could do to save my precious daughter.  I collapsed to the floor, sobbing.  I hadn’t cried that way for a very long time, but did so regularly until the “hope” part began.

The “hope” part did begin however. We were told that a donor had been found, and that the transplant would begin as soon as the liver could be retrieved.  (We found out weeks later that a woman named “Cheri” had died in an accident, and that her survivors agreed to organ donation.) Several friends remained at our side to encourage us, although most, including me, fell asleep during the wait. After what seemed like an eternity, we were awakened and told that the surgery would soon begin. I again slept for a few hours in the waiting room, and was awakened shortly before the Transplant Surgeon, Dr. William Payne, came and announced that the surgery was complete. I remember him remarking on the unusually large number of family members and friends who were present in the waiting room. But the news he gave about the surgery was good.

The “rejoicing” part began cautiously.  The surgery was over, and Lisa’s lab work was markedly improved which indicated the transplanted liver was working.  But she was still unconscious.  After roughly two days of unconsciousness Lisa opened her eyes!  She still had a breathing tube and so couldn’t talk, but at least her eyes had opened!  I excitedly called Kath to share the good news, and she and the girls soon arrived to witness the miracle we’d been praying for.  After several more days of normal liver function and rehabilitation, Lisa returned home, and began the first chapter of her physical rebirth

All of our family members (certainly I) rapidly transitioned from absolute despair, to cautious hope, to praise-filled rejoicing!  Lisa’s liver transplant continues to be a major landmark in my life as an individual, and in our lives as a family.”

Dad, you have been an incredible protector for our family. Thank you for doing what you can, crying when you can’t and trusting The One who can.

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My Dad sharing at my 1 year anniversary party.

My sister brought hope…

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I’m going to let my sister tell her story….

(She wrote this a couple months after my transplant.)

“To try to put on paper all that I was feeling and experiencing seems impossible. My sister…one I confide in, laugh hardest with, am challenged and encouraged by, used to play Barbies with, used to bite me, trusts me, believes in me, who gives so much of herself to those around her, who knows my secrets..my SISTER was all of a sudden in a coma. I can’t put what I was feeling into words..I know that I couldn’t imagine for one second what my life would have been like without my sister, Lisa, in my life. I couldn’t imagine the world without Lisa as she has affected and touched so many.

Many of you felt and walked through this crisis with my family and I, but I want to share “my side of the story” in hope that God may be glorified and honored. Before Lisa was admitted to the hospital, she was diagnosed with Hepatitis. After I heard her diagnosis I asked God what He was going to do through her sickness. I believed that said He was going to give her an identification with the sick, an authority to speak into areas that need healing, and that He was going to give her an abundance of life. What awesome promises.

Three days later, I got a phone call telling me I need to come home immediately because Lisa had acute liver failure and needed to have an emergency liver transplant. At first, I felt out of control-I couldn’t think, couldn’t talk, couldn’t stop moving. My friends came along side of me-packed, planned and most importantly prayed. Several of them got on their knees as soon as they heard and God gave scriptures that confirmed that Lisa would be healed.

That night, I wept and spilled my guts to the Lord. I told Him I was scared and didn’t know what I’d do without Lisa. I cried out for her healing and in my sorrow, God reminded me of His promises-identification, authority and abundant life. The perfect, unchanging character of God is to never promise something He doesn’t intend to fulfill.

When I arrived in Minnesota on Friday, Lisa was just closing her eyes as her body went into a full coma. She looked to be in distress. Her skin was yellow, she cried infected yellow tears, she had tubes everywhere..there was no response.

Word spread FAST. Families, churches, YWAM bases, Christian groups all over the world go on their knees and cried out to God on Lisa’s behalf. We cried out for a miracle! People prayed who haven’t prayed for years. God’s people united together and prayed for healing.

So, we waited and waited and waited and waited…for two never ending days. We did a lot of crying and praying, but also did a lot of laughing as friends and family shared their favorite memories of Lisa. I think some of my favorite moments while Lisa was in the coma was when it was just her and I in the ICU room. I’d lay down at the foot of her bed, reading Scripture, praying for her, speaking Truth to her…touching her. I wanted to take her place. I wanted to take my liver out and give it to her, but I also knew that God had a different idea. His intention was to heal her. He was going to heal her. We just had to wait on His perfect timing. I really believe with all my heart that Lisa would be healed. My flesh tried to entertain the thought of her not pulling through, but my spirit would NOT let me think that way for very long. I couldn’t help but to believe she was going to have the life abundantly God had promised. I had a peace that came directly from the Father’s heart for it couldn’t have come from anywhere else. I hate waiting though-I hated having to see her distressed expressions-I hated to see the tears that would fall from her eyes.

Because the average wait for a liver is 18 days and she needed one in 24 hours, the transplant surgeons came to our family to talk about the possibility of having someone in the family doing a live donor transplant. In this surgery, a part of a liver is removed from a person and then transplanted into the recipient. At this point on Saturday morning it was crucial that we began exploring other options if another liver didn’t become available. Lisa would die without intervention.

I began to get tested to see if my liver would be a match. The hardest thought I faced regarding the possibility of my surgery was not being by Lisa’s bed when she woke up from her coma because I would have been recovering myself.

Shortly before i started getting tested, my Grandma said in faith “We’re going to get a liver tonight.” I didn’t think too much of it until I felt that God Himself told me that He was going to provide a liver that night. Several hours after that, we got a call that there was a possible liver available, but that it had to be checked and tested before we could know for sure. We immediately praised the Lord and prayed that it would be a match. Grandma and I knew it would be…

We waited 8 hours before getting the final word….THE LIVER WAS A MATCH…it was 15% bigger than the surgeons hoped for, but they felt hopeful nonetheless. At this point things started to move fast. Surgery was scheduled for two hours later. Friends and family came to be there during the 8 hour surgery. The surgery was a success! People were praising the Lord all over the nation. It was decided-Lisa was going to pull thru! I believe the angels were rejoicing too.

Lisa’s color was back immediately after the surgery was over…no more yellow! This was a great sign! She woke up from her coma a day and a half after her transplant and was walking a day after that. Eight days after her liver transplant, she was released from the hospital!!! After a day of being confused, she started praising the Lord for everything He had done and was giving Him all glory. The medical staff was amazing at Lisa’s healing. The saw the work of God first hand. We all experienced a miracle.

One important lesson I learned is that when our circumstances change, the Word of God doesn’t. It is the only thing that will stand when all else falls. God wrote it for us because He means every word in it. Even if Lisa would not have made it, this would have been true. In my mind, I can’t comprehend that..but that is TRUTH. Our ways are not God’s ways. Our finite knowledge cannot compare to His infinite wisdom. Lisa’s life is HIS because she has chosen to give Him that place in her life. Her name is written in the Lamb’s book of Life, and that is what’s important. Out of the relationship that He has with Lisa and our of His perfect love, He allowed His servant to endure so His purposed could be accomplished.

He is not done.”

She had a vision of healing that brought hope to everyone around us…..

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Laura (right) & Lindsay (younger sister) a few days after transplant. ( I had amazing hair…)