Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Transplant

"Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring."
Proverbs 27:1

On Friday morning, February 26, in my daily study of the Bible, I read the 27th chapter of Proverbs as I started my day. I remember reading this first verse and thinking about it's truth, but little did I know that in a few hours we would be living in its reality. Friday was a rainy day in Boston, a refreshing change from a continually snowy winter. Mary and I had an unusually uneventful Friday evening planned, so we decided to give our homeowners a date night and told them we would take care of their children for the evening. We ordered pizza and as I drove to Domino's around 6:00, I noticed that the rain was changing consistency as it turned to snow. We watched a movie with the kids, and at 9:00 we turned off the movie to go upstairs and put the boys to bed. As we were getting up off the couch, Mary stopped and asked me to put her phone in my pocket. I grabbed it, stuck it in my pocket, and we headed to the boy's bedrooms. Mary and I were kneeling next to Ethan's bed, praying the Lord's prayer with him out loud when I felt Mary's phone vibrating in my pocket. I rushed out of the room and answered the phone. I heard Mary's sister, Rachel, say calmly yet with a small quiver in her voice, "Hi Peter, it's Rachel, is Mary there?" I rushed in and handed the phone to Mary. I saw her eyes widen, take a deep breath, and say, "OK... I will see you soon."

I knew what those words meant... The call had come... 110 days since Rachel had been put on the list to await a lung transplant because of the deterioration to her lungs caused by Cystic Fibrosis (CF). Her young age and other factors (such as her spunky spirit) made her an ideal candidate for a double lung transplant. Four years ago, Rachel had started meeting with the transplant team, getting tests done, and was heading in that direction. In the meanwhile, doctors realized a medication that improved Rachel's lungs, majorly postponing the plans for the transplant (which was a good thing). As time progressed, Rachel's lungs developed further resistance to medication and treatment, which led to the resurfacing of the transplant plans. On November 9, 2010, Rachel was officially listed on the transplant list, and began waiting for the day new lungs would be available. That day had come.

Mary finished talking with Rachel as I ran down the stairs to get on the phone with Southwest Airlines. I waited on hold for a few minutes, and Mary came downstairs to gather some extra things to put in her pre-packed bag. Soon a sweet lady who works for Southwest Airlines answered my call, and I explained the situation and asked when the next flight to Baltimore would be. She quickly pulled up the flights on her computer, and said, "I'm sorry sir, but it looks like the last flight out to Baltimore was a 7:30 flight." I paused for a moment to consider what to do next. It was now a little past 9:30. My mind raced through the options... If Mary waited until morning to fly out, there would be no chance to see Rachel before the transplant began... Then I thought, I could drive... But as I calculated the hours it would take to travel through the night i realized it would not allow us to get there any faster... Then I heard the lady on the phone say, "But sir, it looks like the 7:30 flight has been delayed until 11:30... There is room on the flight if you want to try to catch it." I thanked her for her help and went to talk with Mary about our options. We decided that we would both catch the delayed flight. (In our previous planning, we had never considered both of us flying out but planned that Mary would fly out and I would come on the weekend... But here we were on a Friday night, with no work scheduled for the weekend and flexibility with schoolwork... It was the perfect timing for me to come too.) I quickly gathered some clothes in my backpack and called the homeowners to let them know that we needed them to come so that we could take off. As they answered the phone, I said, "I'm really sorry about this, but Mary and I need you to come home." To my great relief they responded, "Good timing, we are pulling up to the house now." As they came in the door, they offered to give us a ride to the airport.

A few minutes later, we were in the car on our way to Boston Logan International Airport. Thankfully we only live about 30 minutes from the airport, and by 10:45 we were making our way through security to await the boarding of our plane. We found out that the flight had been delayed a little more until 12:20, which gave us some time to make some much needed phone calls. The word spread fast via phone calls and Facebook as people across the country began to praying for Rachel and the family. We do not know the full extent of the prayers of God's people interceding over the past few days, but this we do know... the power of these prayers has been seen and felt.

We arrived in Baltimore around 2:00 am, and a friend of ours from Hagerstown had arranged for her brother, who lives in Baltimore, to pick us up from the airport and take us to Johns Hopkins. This was an incredible blessing in the midst of a busy night to have a ride to the airport... By someone we didn't even know! We were beginning to see the fingerprints of God's hand behind every detail of the night.

We arrived at Hopkins around 3:00 am, where we met Sam and Karen in the lobby. We headed upstairs to the waiting room of the ICU and tried to make ourselves comfortable for the next couple of hours. Rachel and Jonathan were getting some rest in her room where she had been prepped for the surgery to begin in the morning. The surgeon was at home getting good night's rest, while the transplant team was running tests on the donor's lungs to make sure they were a match.

Mary and I were restless after our night of traveling, and since Mary had not had time to do her evening routine when we got the call, we went in the hallway to do PT. About 5:00 am, Jonathan came out to let us know that Rachel was awake, and we went in to hang out with her for about a half hour. She was calm as could be... Probably calmer than I am when I go to get a flu shot, and a few hours away from a double lung transplant, it was totally evident that the Lord had prepared her for this day. We left the room and Rachel and Jonathan spent time together before the doctors came around 6:00 a.m. to take Rachel to the O.R. to prep for the transplant.

Rachel's husband, Jonathan, recounts the hours and days to follow on their blog... Visit it at

Today is two weeks since Rachel got her new lungs, and amazingly she is at home beginning her new life. She is doing extremely well. We are all thankful for your support and prayers. Throughout the last two weeks, our prayer has been that of Psalm 119:74... "Let those who fear you and see me rejoice, because [we] have hoped in your word."


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your post... Good to hear that Rachel is doing well.Love you guys