Marshmallow Mondays


A Match For Ryan Fundraisers

Today’s post is dedicated to current fundraisers supporting A Match For Ryan.

By now, you are all probably aware where Ryan is at in his transplant process.  He is in the midst of having routine tests performed, but as soon as those are completed he will be placed on the kidney/pancreas wait list.  Because he has the universal recipient blood type, AB, his transplant team is confident that his time on the wait list will be short, which will allow him to avoid dialysis.

Thank you, everyone, for continuing to provide us with such an abundance of support and love as we go through this process.  You all strengthen our hope, lift our spirits, and remind us that we aren’t alone.  I don’t think we’ll ever be able to truly express how much your support means to us.  We feel it on a daily basis, and it has had a huge impact on our motivation to educate others on kidney health, living donation and the importance of being an organ donor.

We continue to hear the question “how can I help?”  Well, here’s your chance!  Below you will find three different fundraisers.  Funds raised from each will support Ryan’s medical costs associated with surgery, trips to Cincinnati Hospital, and post-transplant medications.  We are hopeful that we can raise enough money to be able to make a donation to The National Kidney Foundation of Kentucky as well.  Giving back is extremely important to us, especially because we have been so strongly supported with love and compassion throughout this process.

Please consider supporting one, two or even all three of these fundraisers, and feel free to share each with your family and friends.

ShareYourSpare-Green

Share Your Spare 5K Run/Walk

Date & Time:  June 7th, 8:30am

Location:  Coldstream Research Park, Lexington, KY OR your own community

Participate:  Run or walk with us in Lexington, or sign up as a “Virtual Runner/Walker” and participate from any location!  ALL participants, virtual included, will receive a t-shirt* with their registration fee.

*T-shirt deadline is May 25th, so make sure to sign up prior to that date to guarantee that you receive a shirt.

There will also be a Kids One Mile Fun Walk, which will be led by our very own Rydan Buffington.  Kids are encouraged to wear as much green as creatively as possible to support kidney health awareness.  Prizes will be awarded!

Features:  Chip timing by 3 Way Racing; Race Photography

Register:  http://www.runsignup.com/shareyourspare5k

*Can’t participate but still want to contribute?  Just use the “Donate” tab on the signup page.

 

imagesPampered Chef

Date:  now through April 25th

How To Shop:  Set up an account online, choose “shop online”, enter “Bridgit Buffington” as the host.  15 percent of total sales will support Ryan.  Open to anyone in all 50 states.  Can direct ship.

 

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Jamberry

Date:  now through April 30th

How To Shop:  Add items to your cart and select “Match For Ryan” at check out.  20 percent of total sales will support Ryan.  Open to anyone in all 50 states.  Can direct ship.

 

 

 

 



Visitor

We had a visitor this past weekend!  Ryan’s best friend from Pennsylvania, Tori, came to spend the weekend with us in Lexington.  As an avid horse racing fan, we were all excited for Tori’s arrival.

On Friday, we ordered some pizzas and hung out at the house.  It was really refreshing to have the company of such a close Pennsylvania friend and just share stories and laughs.  For some reason, Lily kept calling Tori “guy” all weekend because she couldn’t remember his name, so that alone made for quite a few giggles.

On Saturday, we ventured to The Kentucky Horse Park, so that Tori could meet some of the champion horses he’s followed over his years as a race fan.

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Our little horse-lover was so excited to be at the Horse Park.

Our little horse-lover was so excited to be at the Horse Park.

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Mr. Muscleman

Mr. Muscleman. Harness-Race Horse. Two time Breeder’s Crown Champion. First trotter to retire to The Hall of Champions.

Go For Gin

Go For Gin. 1994 Kentucky Derby Winner.

Da Hoss

Da Hoss. Only horse to win two Breeder’s Cup Races in non-consecutive years.

Funny Cide

Funny Cide. First Gelding to win the Kentucky Derby since 1929; Champion New York Horse of the Year 2003, 2004.

We also watched a presentation called “Horses of the World,” which featured various breeds.  After the show, Lily had the opportunity to meet some of these beautiful creatures up close and personal.

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That evening we watched Kentucky’s exciting victory over Wisconsin.  Go CATS!  I still don’t quite understand the couch burning celebration, but I will say that I’ve never seen such crazy, devoted fans.

The highlight of Tori’s visit was probably he and Ryan’s visit to Keeneland yesterday to watch the horses races.  Both came home with sunburned faces and slightly emptier pockets (some more than others), but overall they seemed to really enjoy themselves.  I believe Tori’s exact words were “it’s just as awesome as going to Vegas.”

Tori is heading back to PA today.  Thank you so much for making the long drive to see us, Tori!  You are welcome anytime, and we hope you enjoyed your stay in the Bluegrass.



RunTheBluegrass Recap

Never say never.  Even after completing a half marathon that wasn’t very kind to you.  One that was filled with the steepest hills my legs have ever run on, and one that left me sore for an entire week.

Even before I crossed the finish line last year, I vowed to never do this race again. After injuring my leg at the 5th mile, the remainder of the course was torture.  Any time I’ve talked about RunTheBluegrass throughout the past year, I’ve said the same thing – I’m just glad to be able to say that I did it, because it’s not a race you do for time; it’s one that you do just to see if you can reach the finish line.

Add to that the fact that I usually don’t run ANY race more than once.  I like to support different causes, and I like variety.  All of that being said, the chances of me returning to the RunTheBluegrass half marathon course were slim to none.

Enter 2014, and the news that Heather Abbott would be the guest of honor at this same race.  I didn’t think twice.  I just signed up. That’s the kind of influence Heather Abbott has.  Who is Heather Abbott?  She is a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombing.  Click here to watch the piece that WKYT did last week regarding Heather’s visit to the Bluegrass.

Saturday’s race day weather was less than desirable.  Rain (heavy at times), wind and cold air made for thousands of soggy, shivering runners.  But, you don’t train for months for RunTheBluegrass only to back out on race day because of a little rain, especially when you know that Heather Abbott showed up for you. Instead, you hold your head high, you attack each hill, you don’t stop, you pull inspiration from those around you who are doing the same, and you find every ounce of strength you have just to reach the finish line and receive that oh so cool Zenyatta-inspired horse medal.

I have to talk about the remarkable volunteers too.  I don’t know how RunTheBluegrass finds the type of people willing to show up on a day like Saturday and stand outside for hours freezing their tails off.  The truly awesome thing was, that they didn’t just stand there and clap when you ran by.  They didn’t just say a simple “you can do it.”  These volunteers gave it their all and made you feel like they felt every ounce of the fight that was going on inside of you.  If the torrential downpour bothered them, they sure didn’t show it.  They were flat out awesome, and truly had an effect on my will to keep going.

And then there were the bands.  The most memorable for me were the people playing the drums at the dreaded mile-9.  Pushing myself up the hill that makes you want to cry was slightly easier with the thump of the drums beneath my legs.

This race was definitely memorable.  It was a true challenge.  It was kind of miserable too.  BUT, I did it.  I accomplished a personal goal, and isn’t that what running is all about?  My time of 1:45:09 was a thirteen minute improvement over last year’s time, and for me, it was all worth it.

This is the first time that my family didn’t see me cross the finish line of a race.  They were staying warm and dry inside of Keene Barn.  I literally looked like I got a bath when I found them, and when I saw the disappointment on Ryan’s face when he said “We missed you.  I can’t believe we missed you,” I simply smiled and said “It’s okay,” and I meant it.  Something happened with the halfway text he received letting him know that I was halfway through.  It didn’t reach him until after I’d passed my halfway point, so he wasn’t expecting me to cross the finish line when I did, and therefore missed the moment that I finished and received my medal. Bummer? In hindsight, maybe a little, but in looking at the big picture that day with the daunting elements and difficult hilly course, I am just grateful and proud to have accomplished this one.  I won’t ever forget it.

I had high hopes of meeting Heather Abbott too, but unfortunately I didn’t get that opportunity. I would have loved to shake her hand, but even though it didn’t happen, I will forever cherish the influence that she had on getting me back onto that course and inspiring me to overcome something that was a big disappointment for me last year.

So between the awful weather, my family missing my finishing moment, and missing out on meeting Heather, one might deem this experience as a disappointment.  Are there things that I wish would have been different?  Sure.  But, I also understand that no one can control the weather, and that sometimes, it’s the unexpected that creates the most memorable moments.

Eric Patrick Marr, RunTheBluegrass Race Director, I think you did a phenomenal job.  Despite the circumstances, you managed to execute one heck of a race.  From a runner’s perspective, thank you for caring so much about your runners.  Thank you for caring so much about your volunteers.  Thank you for taking so much pride in RunTheBluegrass, because truly, it shows, and I am proud to have been a part of it!

I don’t have any pictures of the day, but this is all I need to remember March 29, 2014.

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The Power Of A Share

Almost three weeks ago, I shared the news that Ryan is in need of a kidney.  Within the first 48 hours, that “Special & Urgent News” post received 6,257 views.  Even before those first 48 hours were up, I created A Match For Ryan, which currently has 538 “likes.”  I will never forget how it felt to sit here and watch “like” after “like” and “share” after “share” within the first few minutes of creating the Facebook page.  You all have blown us away with support in creating awareness for Ryan’s needs.  The power of social media is truly incredible.

I know not all of our readers, especially many of our family members, do not have Facebook, and therefore are not receiving all of the updates posted on A Match For Ryan.  Please understand that this is the fastest and most efficient way of reaching all our supporters, as well as potential living donors.

The list of potential donors currently includes friends, family members, but also friends of friends and people whom we’ve never met, but have been able to reach all due to that little “share” button.  Everyone is showing such genuine care and compassion, which provides us with an abundance of hope for better days ahead.

For anyone who needs caught up, or for anyone who isn’t on Facebook, today’s blog post is simply to provide an up-to-date report on where Ryan is at in the kidney transplant process, as well as provide a few educational highlights on kidney transplants and living donations.

Feedback from our all-day appointment at The University of Cincinnati Hospital last week:

  • After speaking with one of the transplant surgeons and a nephrologist (kidney doctor), they are suggesting that Ryan receive a kidney AND pancreas transplant all at once, which would come as a pair from a deceased donor.  Prior to today, we did know that he would need a pancreas transplant as well, but thought that it would happen months after the kidney transplant.
  • These are the reasons that our transplant team is suggesting a kidney/pancreas transplant, as opposed to two separate transplants done at two different times:
  1. Ryan’s diabetes have caused wear and tear on his current kidney, and will do the same on a new kidney.  By getting a pancreas AND kidney at the same time, it eliminates that wear and tear because he would no longer be diabetic.
  2. There is a lower risk of thrombosis (blood clotting) by doing a pancreas AND kidney transplant all at once.
  3. Anti-rejection medications are required for the life of a kidney post transplant.  These medications create antibodies, which make it more difficult to do a pancreas transplant down the road.
  4. ONE surgery as opposed to two separate surgeries.

Please understand that right now this is just an option being presented to us.  The goal is to keep Ryan off of dialysis, so depending on the rate at which his kidney function declines, he still may need to move forward with a living donor.  If his function gets close to the point where dialysis would be needed, he most likely will move ahead with a living donor.  If his function remains at the level it is now, he will wait for the pancreas AND kidney and have one surgery.

*What does all of that mean for our potential donors?  It means that we still need you!  We want to be ready with a match in the event that Ryan’s kidney function approaches the need for dialysis.

Is Ryan already on the kidney/pancreas wait list?

  • Ryan will be placed on the KP wait list after his tests are completed.  All transplant candidates must first go through a list of tests based on his/her medical history before being placed on the wait list.  All tests can be performed here in Lexington.
  • The benefit is that since his kidney function is still above transplant level, he can begin to accrue time on the wait list.
  • Reminder – depending on the rate at which his kidney function declines, it is still very possible that he would need to move forward with a living donor transplant.

What types of post-transplant medications will Ryan need?

  • There are two types of medications Ryan will need post transplant to prevent complications:
  1. Anti-Rejection: Meds that are used to prevent and/or treat rejection of a transplanted kidney.  These medications will be taken for the entire life of the transplanted kidney.
  2. Anti-Infection: Meds that are used to prevent and/or treat certain bacterial, viral and fungal infections post transplant.  These are taken for approximately one year.

What are the chances for Rejection?

  • Rejection occurs when the immune system recognizes the new kidney as foreign and attacks it.
  • Rejection is treatable in most cases.
  • The risk for rejection is highest during the first 60-90 days.  90 percent occur in the first three months after transplant.
  • 99 percent of rejection happens due to not taking post transplant meds at the same times every day.

Does Ryan know his blood type?

  • Not yet.  Ryan did have a blood test performed while we were in Cincinnati last week.  The hospital policy is that they need two separate blood tests, so he will have another test performed in Lexington sometime soon.  As soon as we know his type, all of you will know too. Below is a chart that shows how blood-typing compatibility works.

blood chart

What if I am thinking about being a kidney donor for Ryan?

  • For anyone who is thinking about being a potential kidney donor, the first step would be to contact our pre-transplant coordinator. If you do not live near Cincinnati, she can mail a blood kit to you, which you can take to a local lab and have your blood drawn.  The lab will then mail the blood sample to Cincinnati. The coordinator will interview each potential donor for medical and surgical history, and also educate each person on the donor process.  She will identify any conditions that may prohibit donation.
  • There is no cost to the donor.  Tests (with the exception of pap smears, mammograms & colonoscopies), surgery and post-op appointments are covered for the donor.
  • If you are interested in speaking with our pre-transplant coordinator, please email me at bwmarie@hotmail.com and I will gladly provide you with her phone number.
  • We do not want anyone to feel any pressure or obligation, and therefore will respect your decision, should it ever change.

I understand that this is a lot of information, so please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions.  My goal with social media is to keep everyone as informed as possible so that each of you feels educated enough to share Ryan’s needs, and therefore increase his chances of finding a match.  My request to each of you who reads this post today is to SHARE it.  Post it on your Facebook page, reblog it, email it, print it out and show it to someone.  Just don’t keep it to yourself.  SHARE it.

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Medals All Around

railrunnerOn Saturday morning, I participated in the RJ Corman RailRunner 10 Mile Race at RJ Corman Railroad Group in Nicholasville, KY.

With over 500 runners, this was the first year without R.J. “Rick” Corman, who established the company in 1973, and ran it until his death on August 23, 2013.  Upon high school graduation, Mr. Corman borrowed money from his uncle for a backhoe and dump truck and went to work rebuilding/repairing railroad crossings.  At the end of four years he had a dozen backhoes, a few dump trucks,  and no debt.  Sadly, Mr. Corman passed away last year from multiple myeloma, at the young age of 58.  Today, RJ Corman Railroad Group serves all seven North American major railroads, many regional and shortline railroads and dozens of industries having rail.

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It was a beautiful morning with the kind of weather every runner hopes for when signing up for a race… slightly brisk air with a nice warm sun shining down and not a single cloud for it to hide behind.  I couldn’t help but wonder if Mr. Corman had something to do with such perfect race morning weather.

Even though I had never run this race before or had the privilege of meeting this remarkable, successful, well-respected man, it felt really special to be in the presence of people who did.  From what I’ve read, Mr. Corman was a man of great integrity, had a generous heart, strong determination, and was truly admired by so many people.

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Rick Corman. 1955-2013.

I am a Pennsylvania girl at heart and have always loved being surrounded by the serene mountains that Pennsylvania offers, but I have to say that Kentucky sure does have some beautiful scenery too.  The grounds of RJ Corman Railroad Group are lovely.  Having the opportunity to run on this private course, which included running on an airstrip, was a really cool, memorable experience.  The airstrip was a particular highlight for me.  As soon as I stepped onto it, the true beauty of the day hit me like a wave of fresh air.  All of a sudden my fellow runners seemed miniature against the open blue sky that seemed to go on for miles.  I felt a strong momentum being on that airstrip and truly enjoyed every second of that part of the course.

Race Start.

Race Start.

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Last leg of the 10th mile.

Last leg of the 10th mile.

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Crossing the finish line of a race has yet to get old for me.  I don’t think it ever will.  After being greeted by my supportive husband and very patient little girl, we enjoyed Zaxby’s chicken sandwiches and homemade banana ice cream, made right in front of us by My Old Kentucky Dinner Train.

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Done!

Lily enjoying her homemade banana ice cream.  I think this was bowl number one of two.

Lily enjoying her homemade banana ice cream. I think this was bowl number one of two.

I finished with a time of 1:16:19 (7:38 pace), and was the first finishing female in my age group, and 6th female overall.  My award was a shiny red rail spike. This is by far the most unique medal I’ve ever received, and I definitely won’t forget where it came from.

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I have to give a big shout out to Bob Baney of 3 Way Racing for hosting the RailRunner.  Bob has just recently become a wonderful friend of mine, but I have run quite of few of 3 Way’s races over the past two years, and I have never been disappointed.  I saw Bob quite a few times on the race course, and he always had a smile on his face and cheered me on.  On a 10-mile course, I definitely needed that.  3 Way Racing is not only professional, but they truly care about their runners, as well as the organizations supported by their races.  This one benefited The Chrysalis House in Lexington, which is Kentucky’s oldest and largest licensed substance abuse treatment program for women.

Meanwhile that day, in Westerville, Ohio…

Rydan was competing in the Midwest Regional Taekwondo Tournament.  As a new red belt, Rydan wasn’t a little unsure of his abilities to come home with a medal from the tournament.  Ryan and I reassured him that he shouldn’t focus on getting a medal but instead on doing his best and simply enjoying the experience of the tournament.  Around 9pm Saturday evening, Rydan came home with not one, but two medals around his neck.  He had won a copper (4th place) in his forms and a silver (2nd place) in sparring.  We were so proud of him!  First, because he believed in himself and proved that he could overcome his apprehension.  And second, because he is usually weaker when it comes to sparring, and he managed to get himself a 2nd place medal.  “I just went for it” he said, with a big smile on his face.  It was really cool to show off our medals to one another, and talk about our accomplishments for the day.

A HUGE thank you goes out to Rydan’s friend Tristan and Tristan’s mom for taking Rydan along to the tournament.  It was a three and a half hour drive to Westerville, OH, which I can’t imagine was an easy task with three Taekwondo boys AND her one-year-old daughter.  We sure do have amazing friends here in Kentucky, and are so appreciative that Rydan has this experience to remember, and two shiny medals to display.  Thank you, Toni, for extending such an act of kindness to us, and to Rydan!  She even managed to take a few pictures for us to have.  What a super mom, and a wonderful friend!

Sparring.  (Rydan on the right).

Sparring. (Rydan on the right).

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Red belt sparring medal winners.

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Red belt forms medal winners.

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Back of each medal.

Clearly, they had a fun time.  Medals for all three too!

Clearly, they had a fun time. Medals for all three too!



Before & After
03.10.14, 7:16 AM
Filed under: The Buffington Southern Experience | Tags: ,

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I showed you the picture of Lily’s messy play room?  Let me remind you in case you forgot.

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Well, that room has been transformed! It’s amazing what some paint color and organization can do.

I wanted a play room that Lily wouldn’t outgrow in a year, and one that allowed her to do some of her favorite things, like reading, coloring and painting, and playing with her kitchen set.  And because Lily is such a sweet, happy little girl, I chose colors that I thought represented just that – a yellow called “Sunglow” and a fuschia color called “Radiant Orchid,” which just so happens to be the color of the year at Lowe’s.

We still have a few things to organize, like the closet, as well as some small decorative touches to add, but for now I am excited to share these photos of our new, bright, improved play room.

These are our Ikea spice rack bookshelves.  With a little paint, these work great for displaying Lily's favorite board books.

These are our Ikea spice rack bookshelves. With a little paint, these work great for displaying Lily’s favorite board books.

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This is our art center, where Lily and her friends can color, paint, stamp, draw and do crafts.

This is our art center, where Lily and her friends can color, paint, stamp, draw and do crafts.

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This is our art gallery wall, where Lily and Rydan can display their masterpieces.

This is our art gallery wall, where Lily and Rydan can display their masterpieces.  I found these pretty wooden frames at Michael’s and simply painted each one a different color of acrylic paint.  I love how colorful it makes the wall.

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This is our chalkboard wall, which Lily absolutely loves.

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Stay tuned for more photos as we move onto the next room!



*SPECIAL & URGENT NEWS*
03.05.14, 7:13 PM
Filed under: Family | Tags: , , , ,

_17D4027This is my husband, Ryan.  He’s an amazing, proud father.  He’s extremely hard-working.  He’s confident.  He’s comical.  He’s very sarcastic. He’s great with numbers.  He loves the Phillies.  He’s an all-around good guy.  He’s truthful.  He’s loving.

He’s also diabetic.  To some, that simply means that he pricks his finger a lot and can’t eat sugar.  To Ryan, it means much more. Blood sugar management has been a big challenge for the past two years.  Nothing scares me more than watching my husband have a low sugar episode.  It is terrifying.  I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen him sweat, shake, and not be able to process what I’m saying because his sugar has dropped dangerously low.  My kids have seen their dad on a hospital bed more times than any child should.  Our 3-year-old daughter sees orange juice and says “Daddy drinks that when his sugar is low.”

So, what happens when your sugar fluctuates as much as Ryan’s?  Your kidneys become overworked.  When kidneys are overworked, they fail.  When they fail, you need a new one.

My husband needs a kidney transplant.  

Here’s where we are at right now.  We’ve already met with doctors from the University of Cincinnati, and have an all-day appointment on March 19th to learn even more.  We will share that information with you as soon as we can, which will most likely include timelines, the transplant surgery, the recovery process, and much more.

In the meantime, I encourage you to share this post with your friends, family, church, etc. so that we can get the word out that Ryan is in need of a living kidney donor.  Due to his age and current health status, a living donor is his best option.  Being a match for Ryan first starts with blood type.  Ryan does not yet know his blood type, but we will find out very soon and share it with you.  Here is the chart of blood type matching.

BloodCompChart

There will be various tests conducted beyond just a blood type match to determine if someone is a desirable match for Ryan, but it all starts with blood type.

If you or anyone you know would like to consider being a potential kidney donor for Ryan, please use the Contact Bridgit button on the left side of the page, or send an email directly to bwmarie@hotmail.com.  If you happen to know your blood type, please include that information in your email.  It doesn’t matter where you live.  For those of you in Pennsylvania, we can set you up with a coordinator to take a blood sample and have it sent to Cincinnati.

I understand that you all probably have a zillion questions.  This is very sudden news.  We have known for a few months that this would be a very likely possibility due to the gradual decline of Ryan’s kidney function, and therefore we did take some time to digest everything ourselves and become more educated so that when we did share the news with all of you, we could be as informative as possible.  It has been a difficult and emotional time, but please know that we felt so much more hopeful after our initial appointment with the Cincinnati team of doctors and coordinators.  The National Kidney Foundation has a TON of great information on its website, so I encourage you to visit their site and browse around a bit.

And, of course please pray for Ryan and my family.  Pray for a match, pray for patience, strength, and endurance as we begin this process.  Ryan is in the best hands possible, and his team of doctors have made us feel very hopeful and confident about the success of kidney donation.  Our hearts are filled with hope for better days ahead where Ryan feels healthy again and can live life without struggling the way he is now.




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