This past week Wednesday was spent in Baltimore, MD at Johns Hopkins Medical Hospital undergoing the final evaluation and testing to become a kidney donor. The doctors are very confident of my ability to qualify medically and I am awaiting the final “OK” to schedule the operation to donate my kidney to congregational member Mark Koenig. This process to this point has taken about 3 months now. It has not been difficult at all, but only a bit slow. I am asking for your prayers that we might be able to arrange the operation for the end of August – as that figures the best into my schedule!
A FEW PRELIMINARY NOTES:
+ I do thank my wife especially, and also the church council, for being so very willing to go along with this plan! As the doctors of course repeated over and over again, there are risks involved with any surgery. However they are very low indeed for this particular surgery! I assume much more risk just driving down to Baltimore for the surgery.
+ Although it is considered major surgery, everything is done laparoscopically (through holes in the abdomen) and so recovery time is quite short. I hope that I MIGHT be able to preach the Sunday sermon the week following the surgery.
+ There should be NO practical limitations or impacts on my life with only one kidney until perhaps if I reach a very old age – at which time I might have to go on dialysis. On the other hand, Mark’s quality of life should be improved dramatically. The reality is that dialysis is not a cure for Mark’s kidney disease. According to the doctors, every year that he is hooked up to dialysis there is a 10% chance he will die.
WHAT DO I HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH?
+ Firstly, of course, I hope to contribute to the good health of Mark. Mark has been a member of Peace for a couple years now and he has seen quite a few transplant opportunities fall through over that time.
+ Secondly I DO hope to be an encouragement for others to donate a life-giving gift! That means YOU! There are about 170,000 individuals in the US awaiting a lifesaving kidney donation. You don’t even have to know anyone specifically in need to donate! What I have learned is that you can give your kidney (I think the word is) “altruistically“ – to whoever needs it the most and whoever matches your blood type best. You can learn much more about it at www.donors1.org. I want to thank Marcia Rudat, RN and Parish Nurse at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church in Dickson City, for encouraging me in this endeavor! She is highly involved with the Gift of Life Donor Program along with our own church Elder Kevin Woolverton. Thanks also to Susan Crosbie, RN, our own Parish Nurse for her encouragement and prayers as well!
+ Thirdly, it is a growth opportunity for myself, and I pray that God would bless me through it all. I pray (and you can too, please) that God would bless me with greater faith and love and courage to serve Him in my whole life. I also pray that God would give me a new perspective on life from a hospital bed! I have never been seriously ill. I haven’t been to the doctor in ages. I am hoping that I will have a greater understanding and sympathy for those who ARE ill and lying in the hospital bed wondering HOW the next procedure or test is going to go. Of course it won’t be QUITE the same, but I am hopeful that some of the experience will be helpful for me in ministering to the people that I love, the members of this congregation.
Thank YOU so much for all your prayers and love for both Mark and I! We covet them!
Your servant in Jesus – Pastor Bjornstad