Filed under: The Buffington Southern Experience | Tags: A Match For Ryan, Kidney Pancreas Transplant, Organ Donation
By now, you all know our fantastic news. If you don’t, it is with so much joy that I tell you this.
THERE IS A MATCH FOR RYAN!
I received a call from our transplant coordinator, Darlene, on Friday at 10:30am. “Bridgit, we might have something for Ryan.” My heart began to race, and a barely audible “okay” was all I could manage. Lily and I had just pulled into the parking lot at Kroger. Darlene continued, “I need you to stay put and be ready. Pack a bag. I should know more this afternoon, so just take a deep breath and be ready to go.” I hung up the phone, and Lily said “Mommy, what’s wrong?” I looked into the innocent eyes of my sweet 4-year-old little girl and said “The doctors might have a kidney and a pancreas for Daddy.” She smiled, gasped, and said “That will make Daddy so happy!”
Knowing that Ryan was on a teleconference, I texted him and said “You need to call me.” His response was “I can’t. I am on this phone call.” With no other choice, I typed “Darlene just called. They might have a match for you.” Not being able to hear or see a reaction from him was not exactly how I imagined this happening. He wrote back “I guess you should pack a bag for me.”
So, that’s exactly what I did. When bags were packed for all of us, I started making phone calls to see who was available to watch the kids. Each person I called answered on the first ring or text, and within minutes I had a plan in place. Ryan texted and said that his co-worker offered to watch Brooks. All that was left to do was wait. Easier said than done when you’re talking about the possibility of your husband’s life-saving transplant. So, I started cleaning toilets. Why? I don’t know, but it gave me something to do while Lily jumped up and down asking every two minutes when it was time to go to Miss Nicole’s house.
At 12:40pm I was eating a bowl of soup, and my phone rang. “Bridgit, it’s Darlene. Dr. Diwan wants you to leave right now.” I hung up, called Ryan, who was with a co-worker at Five Guys for lunch, and told him we needed to go.
Within a few minutes he was home, and by 3:30pm we were in Cincinnati at the hospital. For the next 11 hours, we waited, unsure if the transplant was going to happen. I cannot explain the emotions of not knowing, of wondering about the donor, and of feeling so exhausted during such a critical time. When we were finally taken to meet with the anesthesiologist at 2am, our hope was ignited.
At 4:30am, the nurse looked at me and said “They’re ready for him. Time to give him a hug and a kiss goodbye.” I hated the way she said that. Deep down, I knew she didn’t mean it the way that it sounded, but I couldn’t help but be affected by it. Choking back tears, I wrapped my arms around Ryan and tried to focus on that moment for as long as I could. “It’s okay. Be strong,” he said.
Then began my next wait, this time, alone. I sat in the waiting area for almost 8 hours, my feet propped up, blanket wrapped around myself, clutching a pillow. Sleep was impossible. There was nothing more important than talking to God.
At 5:50am, I received my first update from the operating room. Surgery had begun about twenty minutes ago, and everything was off to a good start.
My second update came less than an hour later, and was much like the first. His vitals were good and things were going well.
At 9:15am I learned that his new kidney was in place. An hour later, his new pancreas was in place. By 11:40am, Ryan was out of surgery.
I was extremely thankful for the sweet nurse who provided me with these updates, which allowed me to keep all of our Match For Ryan Facebook followers updated as well. With each post I made, it was a matter of minutes before notifications went crazy with “likes” and comments. Reading everyone’s encouraging words gave me so much comfort. I sat in that waiting room with such a hopeful heart and a strong spirit. With so many prayer warriors on the job, I had no doubts that God would take care of Ryan.
It was 1:30pm when I was allowed into Ryan’s room. As I approached his bed with caution, scared of what he might look like, I was relieved. Despite all of the wires, machines and tubes, he looked much better than I thought he would. I gently placed my hand on the side of his face, and he opened his eyes just long enough for him to see me smile.
As I sit here this morning, Ryan will likely be moved out of the ICU. Both organs are working the way they are supposed to. His sugar has remained normal since surgery. His blood pressure has remained in a healthy range for the longest period of time that I have ever seen. He has a long recovery road ahead, but this is the start of a new life for Ryan, and for our whole family.
As overjoyed as I am, I cannot stop thinking about Ryan’s donor, who was just 19 years old. I wish so badly that I could hug this angel’s family and tell them what a miraculous gift has resulted from their tragic loss. I pray that God gives them comfort during this devastating time. There are no words that can express our gratitude to them. This individual donor has done for Ryan what doctors could not. He has cured Ryan’s diabetes.
This journey has been one like no other, and though it is far from over, I feel like there’s nothing we can’t face. God worked this out for us better than I ever could have imagined. There isn’t a shred of doubt in my mind that He will continue to take care of us and provide for us as Ryan begins his recovery.
I truly thank all of you for your love, support, and prayers. It is such a comfort to know that we have such a strong support system. I have really enjoyed all of the texts, messages, and Facebook comments/likes, because it’s a constant reminder that we are never alone in this. God is so good!
Filed under: The Buffington Southern Experience | Tags: Living Kidney Donor, Match For Ryan, Nicole Nelson, Organ Donation, Transplant
Today, I would like to bring attention to our dear friend, Nicole Nelson. Tomorrow, Nicole is traveling to Los Angeles for three days to complete her medical testing and evaluation, which will determine if she is a suitable candidate as a living kidney donor.
By now, you all know that Nicole was the first person to step forward as a potential living donor for Ryan a few months ago. Nicole and I share a mutual friend on Facebook, which is how she stumbled upon our page. After reading our story, Nicole acted on the compassion in her heart and eagerly offered herself as a potential donor.
When Ryan’s plan changed from needing a living kidney donor to needing a deceased kidney/pancreas, Nicole easily could have disappeared. Instead, she remained, and continues to remain, a strong, hopeful, encouraging, caring, supportive friend to us. From thoughtful care packages, to thinking of you text messages, Nicole has shown us the true meaning of compassion. I still remember her response when I told her that Ryan no longer needed a living donor. She said “Is it weird that I’m kind of disappointed?” From that moment on, I knew that Nicole wasn’t going anywhere, and that I had made a new, amazing friend who I could count on no matter what.
Nicole’s compassion has led her to take action and travel to L.A. to see if she can donate her kidney to someone else in need. Nicole is a true inspiration, and I hope you will all join me in offering her your support and love. Her one-of-a-kind personality, zest for life, positive attitude and comedic side are the perfect combination to bring joy and hope to those in need.
Nicole is a big part of the silver lining that we’ve found through Ryan’s health struggle, and I will be forever grateful to her for reaching out to us. Knowing that she has chosen to help another person like Ryan gives hope and inspiration to not only us, but to the hundreds of thousands of people who are waiting for a life-saving organ.
We’ll be posting updates on Nicole’s journey through our Match For Ryan Facebook Page, so please stay tuned.
We love you, Nicole!
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: GoFundMe, Kidney/Pancreas Transplant, Match For Ryan, Transplant Fund
It has been over four months since Ryan was placed on the kidney/pancreas wait list. Though we had high hopes that Ryan would be in recovery with his new organs by now, we have to continue to trust and have faith in God’s perfect plan.
In the few months that Ryan has been waiting, our Match For Ryan page has attracted over 700 followers. This is definitely something that we are proud of, because that’s 700+ people who are being provided with daily information on kidney disease and organ donation. So many of you have shared our posts, which means that our reach has extended to an even larger audience. The more we all understand this awful disease, and the more we encourage others to become organ donors, the better outcome there will be for people like Ryan.
Ever since we announced Ryan’s need for a transplant, a lot of you have asked how/where donations can be made to our Match For Ryan Transplant Fund. I have finally set up a GoFundMe.com account, where online donations will directly support Ryan’s medical costs associated with transplant surgery, hospital stay and post-transplant medications.
As a reminder, Ryan will be in the hospital for approximately one week when his transplant takes place. Post-surgery appointments will occur in Cincinnati three times a week for a month, then two times a week for a month, and then one time a week for a month. He will need anti-infection medication for the first year post-transplant, and anti-rejection medications for the rest of his life.
This is our personal link, so please feel free to share away!
Please note, donors are not charged any processing fees when making a donation.
As always, we thank each of you for continuing to follow Ryan’s journey towards receiving his transplant, and for all of the love and support that you provide. Having such an awesome support system gives us comfort, hope and encouragement.
Filed under: The Buffington Southern Experience | Tags: Louisville, Mommy-Daughter Date, National Taekwondo Tournament
Off to the National Taekwondo Tournament they went! Early Saturday morning, Rydan and Ryan left for Louisville for Rydan to compete as a Recommended Black Belt in the National Tournament.
As with all tournaments, students are grouped by belt rank and age, and compete in forms and sparring.
With students from Taekwondo Schools across the country, this was the toughest tournament that Rydan has ever competed in. He proudly came home with a 4th place copper medal for his form, which he can now add to his growing collection of tournament medals.
Congratulations, Rydan, and to all of Mr. Nelson’s students who competed! You all brought a lot of medals back to Lexington, and should be very proud of the hard work and dedication you put in over the past few weeks in preparation for this tournament. Way to go!
While Rydan and Ryan were in Louisville, Lily and I stayed home with Brooks, so that he didn’t have to spend half of the day inside of his crate. It was a beautiful day, so we enjoyed a few walks and lots of play time in the back yard. Later that evening, the boys were off again to Rupp Arena to see WWE Live, which was our birthday gift to Rydan. Lily and I enjoyed a Mommy-Daughter evening of church, dinner and Orange Leaf.
Over dinner, I listened to Lily tell me what she learned at church. “Mommy, when I sad, God is my friend, and when God is sad, I can be His friend.” I love hearing what her little 4-year-old mind absorbs, and this just warmed my heart. A few minutes later, she was eating her french fries and singing along to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.” After dinner, I surprised her by going to Orange Leaf, her favorite place for a sweet treat.
Puppy! This is Brooks. He’s the newest member of our family, and we already love him to pieces. He is six and a half weeks old with all of the characteristics of a puppy that you would expect. He plays hard, crashes hard, and he is quite a little snuggle bug.
Ryan has been talking about getting a puppy for awhile now. I continually said that we should wait until after his transplant, but I have grown tired of using that excuse. This summer, we have avoided family vacations, visits to Pennsylvania, and we are unable to commit to anything too far in the future out of concern that “the call” might come and it won’t be convenient for us to get to the hospital in Cincinnati within the time frame we are given. Living this way has become about as normal as it possibly can, but the puppy topic continued to come up in conversation. So, I finally agreed on one condition, which was that if we got a puppy, I wanted one that I could train to run with me.
After a lot of research, we decided on a Vizsla. This is a breed that was rescued from Hungary during WWII. They are excellent runners, great with kids, and nicknamed the “velcro dog” because they are so in love with their owners. After having Brooks for just three days, he has already lived up to that nickname. He loves to be wherever we are, and when he sleeps at least one part of his body has to be against you or on you.
We kept Brooks a secret from the kids up until Friday when we drove to Ohio to pick him up. Lily came along for the ride while Rydan was at school. Lily has had suspicions of a new puppy because she has been along for every trip to PetSmart to purchase various items in preparation for Brooks. Every time we bought something, I told her that it was a Christmas gift for Lola’s dogs, (my mom), which surprisingly satisfied her curiosity. Even when we put up a special gate with a small cat door to keep the puppy out of the laundry room where we keep Louie’s litter and food, the kids bought our little fib about the need for installing the gate. Rydan had remained completely in the dark up until he got home from school on Friday. They both adore their new little friend, and are really enjoying his playfulness.
As for Louie, he is not exactly impressed by Brooks, but he isn’t threatened either. He tends to watch from a close distance, and if Brooks gets too close, Louie’s hiss lets him know to back off. We’ve actually been a little surprised at how uninterested Brooks is in Louie, which I suppose is a good thing. Brooks seems to say “I’ll play with you if you’ll let me, but if not, I’ll find something else to terrorize.”
This was the initial introduction. Louie decided to take a closer look while Brooks was napping. He simply sniffed around a bit and then went on his way. Clearly, Louie knows he is king of the house, and he isn’t about to let a puppy threaten his reign. They’ve had a few stare downs, where Louie always wins because Brooks cowers away after a few seconds. The two of them did actually touch noses yesterday, and then calmly walked away in opposite directions.
So, that’s our big surprise. I’m sure we’ll have lots more to share about our new puppy, so stay tuned! He is definitely quite a handful, but he does provide us with a lot of comic relief, and he is such a little lover.
Happy Monday! My apologies again, friends. I am late on publishing this post. Lily and I are currently outside enjoying the sunshine. Other than our trip to “The Greatest Show On Earth” Friday evening, our weekend was spent at home again. The humidity is finally gone, so we simply enjoyed the beautiful Kentucky weather. It was a weekend of mowing, Redbox, riding bike, going for walks, laundry, and cleaning.
This is the one and only picture I have from the circus. This is Lily and one of her very best friends from The Little Gym, Reese.
Reese and her parents sat with us at the circus. It was so cute watching the girls eat popcorn and enjoy the show. The elephants were a big highlight, and Lily is still talking about them. Unfortunately, they don’t allow cameras with zoom lenses, so we really didn’t take many pictures. Plus, Rydan ended up not feeling too well halfway through the show. Not to worry, though, he is feeling much better now.
This week, it’s Taekwondo and dance class as usual, but Rydan is working extra hard at Taekwondo in preparation for the National Tournament on September 20th.
Next Monday, we will have a big surprise to share, so stay tuned!
Happy Labor Day to all of our readers!
If you were hoping for a post today that was filled with lots of fun pictures and a recap of all the great things we did on our holiday weekend, I apologize. It’s been stormy here, and we have been bums. Highlights from the past two days include a 10-mile run for me, fantasy football draft for Ryan, our usual evening church service, various paint projects around the house, and lots of time stuck indoors for the kids.
No complaints, but unfortunately I just don’t have anything too exciting to share at the moment. Next Monday will be different, since we are taking Rydan and Lily to see the circus on Friday evening. This is a first for both of them, so check back next week to read about it!
Until then, enjoy the rest of your holiday, friends!