Marshmallow Mondays


One Year.

One Year. Today marks ONE YEAR since I published *SPECIAL & URGENT NEWS*, which announced that Ryan was in need of a kidney transplant. I still remember sitting on the couch and talking with Ryan about our game plan. How would we tell our family and friends? How would we seek out potential donors? How would we even ask? I remember looking at Ryan and saying:

“I could write a blog post, you know… and I could publish it tonight. People would pay attention because it’s Wednesday, not Monday, so they’ll wonder why I’m posting on an off day. They’ll come forward for you when they find out what you need.”

117385f56c6a5826588cdb32e6dda2b0Within two hours of publishing, that post had been viewed 2,500 times. To date, it has been viewed 7,108 times. Emails began rolling in within minutes from compassionate people offering their kidney to Ryan. The very next day, I created our Match For Ryan Facebook Page, which now has 1,085 “likes.” We’ve truly been blown away by the kindness that our readers and followers have extended to us throughout this journey. So much strength has grown within us because of the love and support that has surrounded us, and it kept our hope alive. When our phone finally rang on October 10, 2014, we knew we had an entire army of prayer warriors standing ready to see us through Ryan’s transplant.

If you’ve followed my blog or our Match For Ryan Page this past year, thank you. I thank you not just for your love and support, but for allowing us to educate you on something that is very close to our hearts. My goal in sharing our story with social media is to provide education on kidney disease, offer inspiration through hopeful stories of organ donation so that we can encourage more people to become organ donors, and to offer hope to those who are fighting kidney disease and/or waiting for a life-saving organ.

I remember writing “SPECIAL & URGENT NEWS” and feeling like we were so alone. We had entered into a dark, unknown territory that felt overwhelming and so scary. In a matter of moments, life felt more precious than ever. Neither Ryan or myself knew anything about kidney disease. We had been given so many different brochures, and had no idea where to begin. “Diabetes & Kidney Disease,” “Glomerular Filtration Rate,” “Kidney Disease: Stages 1-4,” “Transplant Living,” etc. How would we ever make any sense of it when our brains were still trying to process Ryan’s health situation? If that wasn’t enough, we soon learned that he needed not just a kidney, but a pancreas too. TWO major organs in his body needed replaced.

Now, one year later, and five months post-transplant, I have read countless articles on kidney disease as well as countless stories about organ transplants, so I know that we were not alone in the least. In fact, here’s how not alone we were:

There are 26 million Americans who have kidney disease, and many of them don’t know it.

As of today, there are 123,311 people waiting for a life-saving organ.

Alone? Hardly. What’s really scary about these numbers is that so many Americans are living with kidney disease, but they have no idea. Therefore, being unaware of it can very easily lead to a spot on the waiting list. Here’s what you can do to be “kidney-conscious.”

  1. Knowkidney-ribbon the risk factors: high blood pressure, diabetes, age 60 or above, and family history of kidney disease. If you have any of these risk factors, get screened! A simple urine test can tell if you have kidney disease. It is so important to get tested, because early detection can slow the progression of kidney disease before you find yourself in a late stage, possibly facing a transplant. The National Kidney Foundation offers free kidney health checks in communities across the country. Locate one nearest you.
  2. Reduce your kidney disease risk by controlling your blood sugar and blood pressure, maintaining a proper weight, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, and avoiding excessive use of pain medicine.

March is National Kidney Month. I challenge you to take a stand against kidney disease this month! Sign up for a Kidney Walk near you, go get screened, register to be an organ donor, consider becoming a living kidney donor, or volunteer with your local NKF office. Whatever you do, please know that it is important, and it makes a difference.

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