STUDENT DONATES KIDNEY TO FORMER TEACHER
The following story as told by Judy Martin (60) how a former student recently donated a kidney which has literally given her a new life, is one of the most unusual stories of true Christian faith and love in action that we have witnessed in a long time. We trust that it will be an inspiration to Freedom’s Phoenix readers as it has been to us. Judy lives in Indianapolis with her husband Jerry, and is now back to work as a receptionist at St. Francis hospital. She is also happy to once again be active with her several grand-children, church family, and community affairs.
While I was yet in my thirties I was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease shortly after my father died of the same genetic malady. Meantime, two of my sisters were also diagnosed with the same disease while in their forties. The youngest of the two sisters went into kidney failure about five years ago and received a kidney transplant, but her body rejected that kidney. Presently she is on dialysis. I have battled with various side effects of the disease from anemia to high blood pressure and high cholesterol to hyper-parathyroidism, all resulting in a blood transfusion, years of medications, surgeries, and finally end stage renal disease.
In spite of the complications and because of the prayers of hundreds of people, the Lord gave me the strength and determination to continue teaching at the Indianapolis Baptist School for 25 years until the school was closed after the siege by the IRS of the Baptist Temple . I taught kindergarten 12 years, and junior high 13 years. Those children became my children. My favorite verse as a teacher was III John 4, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” My goal was to instill a desire in my students to serve the Lord with all of their hearts, souls, and minds. Since the closing of the school, I have worked as switchboard operator and trainer at a local hospital.
Last summer (2008), I was diagnosed with end stage renal failure and was advised I needed to prepare for dialysis and be evaluated for a kidney transplant. God’s people began to pray. The transplant evaluation usually takes up to six months. However, the Lord intervened and I was approved within one month by the Clarion Renal Transplant Clinic at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. The average wait for a kidney in Indiana is three years. I was placed on the transplant list in September, 2008, and began the battle to put off dialysis as long as possible. Finally, in May of 2009, I became so ill that I had to begin dialysis treatments, but I continued working every other day because I felt so weak on the days of dialysis. Meantime, various people were tested as possible donors including my sisters, my daughter, friends from church, and co-workers. They were either not a match or had medical conditions prohibiting them from donating. The transplant team will not knowingly put a donor at risk.
In July, I began setting up appointments to be re-evaluated for the transplant list which has to be done annually. One day, I was at the dialysis clinic for a treatment and was making my last appointment for re-evaluation when the coordinator from the Transplant Clinic called me. She said they were concerned because they found out I was scheduled for another surgery on my fistula (a safer access for dialysis than the perma-cath currently being used). They were concerned because they had just scheduled me for a kidney transplant on August 4th. Apparently, there had been a surgery cancellation and my name came up to fill the opening.
Only a few weeks prior to this, without my knowledge, a former kindergarten and junior high student of mine, Douglas Davies, had told me he had secretly been tested as a possible donor and that he was a match for blood type and antibodies. He only had the psychological tests to complete. Apparently, I was difficult to match because of antibodies from pregnancy and a blood transfusion. The possibility of a match was only 23%, and Douglas was a 100% match. His match as a donor was unusual because we are unrelated. Of course, I tried to talk him out of his decision, reminding him of various risks and consequences and that he had a young wife and child to consider. He said he had prayed about it, researched it, and felt it was the right thing to do. I continued to dissuade him, even up to the time of our surgeries.
Finally, on August 4th, at approximately 8:00a.m., the doctors removed Douglas’s kidney and placed it into my body. To the doctors’ surprise, the kidney began to work immediately and, by the next morning, it was functioning at .9 creatinine (normal) level. According to one doctor, this was the first transplanted kidney to do so since he had been transplanting (about 25 years). It was also discovered that Doug’s remaining kidney had an extra artery giving the kidney additional blood supply. God had prepared Doug to be my donor long before I knew I needed one. To God be the glory!
Currently, Douglas and I are doing well. Douglas was able to return to work after only two weeks of recovery. It has been a month since the transplant. I am still at home recovering, but I feel like a new person. I still face some obstacles because of a compromised immune system caused by the anti-rejection medications. Some complications could be certain cancers and susceptibility to infections and illnesses as well as possible rejection of the transplanted kidney. However, God is in control and has a plan for my life. My immediate goal is to return to work in about two weeks, the Lord willing.
I am so grateful to Douglas for his sacrifice and willingness to donate his kidney to me. The Bible says, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” Surely, Douglas has obeyed this command and God has already blessed him with a bonus at work which he received while still in the hospital. Of course, God has blessed me in ways I never could have imagined— a husband who has stood by me every step of the way, family, friends, church family, co-workers, and people I have never met who have prayed and supported me, and, of course, that special gift of a kidney.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (teacher, in this case). John 14:13