Miracles and Angels…….two things people talk about in the abstract…….many believe in one or the other or both, some don’t believe in either, but you rarely hear of someone who has proof of either…….they are typically more of a “feeling” or a figure of speech to explain when something wonderful happens. I believe miracles can happen, but I’m not sure if you can consider them divine intervention. I don’t know, maybe I do. It is a difficult thing to get to the bottom of and, I’m sure, takes a lot of soul-searching. I absolutely believe in angels, but always think of them as an unseen presence that keeps you safe or helps guide you in the right direction – if you listen to them! But, within the last several months and the last couple of weeks, in particular, I do believe I’ve seen both miracles and angels working over time to bring two people together on one amazing day to put an end to a very, very long struggle and provide a happy ending………no, make that a happy beginning!
I’ll make a very long, agonizing story as short as possible because I want to get to my point, but the background is a critical part of that point:
A friend from Sanford that I think a lot of has a sister, Ashley, who has been very ill all of her life with Cystic Fibrosis. She went through and survived a life saving lung transplant, but the medications needed post transplant have destroyed her kidneys. So, she was faced with the realization that another life saving transplant was necessary – this time a kidney transplant. She is a vibrant, caring young woman who has a LOT more to give this world – giving up was not an option! But, there would be obstacles……..lots of obstacles! Her insurance carrier pretty much told her that her life expectancy, even after the transplant, would likely be short, so they refused to cover the costs of the operation. Even if the insurance carrier did cover the expenses, she would still need to raise about $50,000 to cover the uncovered expenses, so the thought of raising enough money to cover all the expenses was overwhelming. But, her family and friends kicked into high gear and the fund-raising began! The Kidney Cutie campaign was born and went viral! There were local fundraisers, t-shirts with the Kidney Cutie logo, blogs, a Facebook page, and so much more! Little by little the money came from near and far. Don’t let me give the impression this was easy……..it most certainly wasn’t! But, it was so heart warming to see so many people, some who never even met Ashley or her family, come to the fundraisers, donate money online, donate items for auctions, and send their love and prayers. To date, over $41,000 has been raised! An amazing feat, for sure. But, would it be enough? Well, it isn’t the $50,000 she’ll need if her insurance carrier were to provide coverage and certainly no where near enough if they continued to refuse coverage! So, the legal battle took off. Say what you will about Legal Aid Attorneys, but the ones Ashley had in her corner really kicked butt and came through for her………and the insurance carrier gave in! The transplant would be covered and the legal and (much of) the financial hurdles were overcome. But, there were more hurdles to overcome in the coming months, including raising the rest of the $50,000! They had what they needed for the procedure to be given the green light, but there are a lot of post-transplant expenses that will continue for some time, so the rest of the money still remains a hurdle.
The part I deliberately left out (because I wanted it to stand alone, even though it is an intricate part of the story) is that Ashley already had a donor! That’s right – she had someone willing to give her one of their kidneys so that she could live! And the most incredible part is that it wasn’t a family member, which you would normally assume. It was the husband of Ashley’s best friend in college – don’t get me wrong, he is not just someone who is married to her friend. They had become very close friends, as well, but the point here is that they might never have met if it wasn’t for Ashley’s friendship with his wife and in the grand scheme of things, they have only known each other for a relatively short time. In walks Jeremy with his own set of hurdles – lots and lots of tests, interviews, and counseling (both physical and psychological), he lives in Florida, so he and his wife, Kate, had to travel to NC for tests and the surgery and, of course, will need to stay in NC for the recovery process so they are close to the transplant team. And then when everything was a “go” and a date was set, they found out there was a chance that Ashley’s insurance carrier may not cover Jeremy’s portion of the costs! Waiting for that decision pushed the date out and gave everyone yet another wave of stress and anxiety – luckily, that worked out!
But, it all came together on Feb 21st! I was glued to Facebook all day, with the rest of the world (believe me, not that big of an exaggeration), watching for updates and crying with emotional relief when I read they were taken into surgery, when they were out of surgery, then when I read they were awake and alert, and when “Jash” (the name they gave the kidney – combo of Jeremy and Ashley) first made urine!!!! Both Ashley and Jeremy are now out of the hospital and doing well. I was in shock to learn that you can go through a kidney transplant (both the donor and the recipient) and get released from the hospital in less than a week! They both have a long, rough recovery to go through, so any prayers and well wishes they continue to get will be greatly appreciated.
I feel like I am trivializing their story by this brief summary, but that is absolutely not my intention. This is a story that has gone on for well over a year………and longer than that for Ashley! I am in awe of those closest to Ashley and Ashley, herself, for making it through it all and not giving up hope…………and for succeeding against all odds! It is an amazing story and one that is an inspiration for me and I’m sure many, many others.
So, now that you know the story……in a nutshell, so to speak……let’s get back to my point.
I am sure that a miracle (or probably “miracles“) happened here. Just the fact that doctors can take an organ out of one person and put it in another and both can go on to live healthy lives (knock on wood) is an absolute miracle!!!! How incredible is that? For so many people to come together in the effort of overcoming the mountainous financial and legal hurdles Ashley was facing is yet another miracle. For Ashley to have a friend who loves her so dearly to risk his own health for her’s is the biggest miracle of all!!! Miracles? Absolutely! But, divine intervention? Again, I don’t know – it is a difficult thing to wrestle with. On one hand, there were literally thousands of prayers going out from all over and from many different faiths. That has to count for something! But, on the other hand, there were a TON of people working very hard to knock down those hurdles – each one that came up, a team of family and friends and attorneys hacked away at it until they made it through. You can’t convince me that if they weren’t all so determined to get to the end goal that the prayers would have made it happen. But, then again, I’m sure the prayers helped keep them motivated and helped them see the light at the end of the tunnel (even when it seemed to be blown out). You know what they say……..”God helps those who help themselves”! So, I leave the divine intervention question to you to decide what you do or don’t believe in. I only know (and, frankly, it only matters) that the end result was a wonderful miracle and that a lovely young woman has a chance at the life she so very much deserves – no matter how it all happened!
Now for the angel part. That is much easier! Even though I’ve always believed in angels, I’ve never known a living, breathing one……..and, to be honest, I have never actually met this one, but I do know he exists. Jeremy is absolutely an angel on earth and I hope that some day I am lucky enough to meet him! Just to make the decision to look into being a live organ donor is, in itself, an incredible thing. But, once the decision was made and he started the long battle through hurdles and stress and anxiety, no one would have faulted him if he had suddenly realized “this is too overwhelming, I just can’t do it”, but he didn’t!!! He stayed the course……….he knew what he needed to do in his heart and he did it!!! At great personal risk, he gave a friend the precious gift of life and for that he deserves the title of “ANGEL”! I truly admire him and his determination to help a friend at all costs!
If you want to read Jeremy’s story, click here to go to his blog — you’ll want to go back to the first post in January and read backwards to get the best flow. Also, Ashley still needs your prayers and, if you’re so inclined, your donations – no donation is too small – they add up quickly and are so very much appreciated! If you’d like to find out how you can make a tax-deductible donation to the balance of Ashley’s fundraising goal, click here for more information.
And, finally, the picture that touched me most of all the photos posted on Facebook and the blogs……….this photo was taken when Ashley and Jeremy first reunited and saw each other after the surgeries – two hands linked in friendship……..two lives forever connected! My proof that miracles and angels do exist!!!