December 14, 2007

Michael Larson Update

Last Friday, I introduced readers to Michael Larson and his mother, Leah. Michael, in the words of his teachers, is "a great kid" with a serious problem -- end-stage renal disease. Michael had to have his kidney removed and is now on dialysis at an age where boys usually spend their days playing baseball, or at this time of year, sledding and playing hockey. Instead, Michael and his mom have to worry about whether Michael can stay healthy enough for the average five-year wait for a cadaver donor.

Given the extraordinary gift that my wife received twice of live-donor kidneys from our friends, I wanted to pay that forward in some small way by helping Michael find his own live donor. My first post prompted an excellent essay from CapQ reader Amy Kissling, who shared her personal story of organ donation for her friend. That prompted another reader, Paul, to write that he felt called to help Michael. After prayers and discussion with his family, Paul contacted the transplant team to start testing for a possible donation.

Paul will have to undergo a thorough regimen of physical examinations in order to determine whether he can donate his kidney to Michael. His tissue has to provoke no strong reactions in Michael, for example, and Paul has to be healthy enough to give up a kidney. By the time Paul finishes his exams, he will know everything there is to know about his health, a great side benefit of the process. If he checks out, the transplant team will schedule the surgery. If for some reason Paul cannot be the donor, we will have to start again with someone new.

I will continue to follow Michael's story, as well as Paul's. People like Paul, Leah, Michael, and our own blessed donors (living and deceased) remind me that while the world can be a dark and dangerous place, it also holds blessings and goodness when we look hard enough for them. This time of year seems especially suited for that lesson.

Michael has entered the Fairview University Transplant Program, the same facility that has provided the FM with three life-saving transplants. Anyone wishing to give of themselves to help Michael can call 800-328-5465 to speak to the living donor coordinator. Later, I'll describe that process for readers as well. In the meantime, thank you for reading, and I hope you will offer your prayers and thoughts for Michael and Leah.


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