JOY Stories



A Reminder of The Greatest Gift

Last Christmas, I never would have dreamed that I would be standing with my brother ringing the donor-recipient bell that signified a successful transplant. My brother, Jeff, and I were very close growing up on a farm in Indiana. We rode bikes, made forts out of hay bales, and created thousands of games to occupy our time. Even though Jeff is younger, he became more like a big brother in many ways and I appreciated the depth of our love for each other.

Jeff has had diabetes since he was 11 years old. Doctors considered him to be a “brittle” diabetic due to the severity of his case. As an adult, the struggle with his health continued and exposed itself in many new ways.

Thanksgiving 2020 Jeff told our family that his doctor wanted him to get on the list for a kidney transplant immediately. The Lord stirred my heart with the thought that I needed to see if I were a match for Jeff and could be a live donor. Soon, the doctors confirmed that I was a good match; however, during a pre-op appointment, the doctors found a hole in Jeff’s heart. The hole had to be repaired. The transplant was postponed. Though he was able to have the hole repaired, his arteries had so much calcium buildup, doctors were concerned that there would not be a viable artery to attach my kidney to. Jeff went into surgery first because they did not want to remove my kidney unless they knew that his artery would support the new kidney.

When I woke up from surgery, the first thing I asked was, “Did Jeff make it through surgery?”. My husband confirmed that Jeff was recovering with my kidney and that the doctors were pleased with how well he was doing. Gratitude flooded my heart. Knowing that Jeff was alive and using my kidney made all of my pain worth it!

This year Christmas looks entirely different. Jeff is back at work, he looks well, and his stamina has returned to levels we haven't seen in several years. Though Christmas is always filled with the hope of all things new, this gift that God has given our family is such a tangible reminder of the gift of His Son…the greatest gift of all.

Photos for Sara


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