Love One Another! 6/2005 → a testimony
On December 15, 2005, I received a heart, liver and kidney transplant at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. I consider this operation and the events surrounding it a miracle. All these events, prior, during and after the surgery, came about as part of God’s action and timing.
I was diagnosed with amyloidosis in June of 2004. They told me I needed a liver transplant. Without it I could not expect to live another two years. I learned that the amyloid was causing my liver to produce a protein that was hardening my other organs to the point that they could barely function. At the time of my operation, my heart was functioning at only 2% capacity. I was barely breathing, walking or doing anything outside of just existing. Only my faith gave me the strength to endure the waiting period for my triple transplant.
Every day I went to Mass on my scooter. I could not walk to church, which was across the street from where I lived; my body simply could not endure it. One day, early in December, our bishop came to say Mass for the deceased members of the clergy. There I felt I had everyone from all over the world praying for me. After Mass, I decided to approach the bishop. I rode my scooter to the back of the church and asked him to pray for me. He put his hand on my head and said, “My dear child, you will have the most glorious Christmas that a person can be given by Christ. You will have your transplant and you will recover very well.” No doctor, or anyone else for that matter, would have dared to make such a prediction, for no one knew when or if a donor would become available; but because of his connection to Christ, the good bishop knew!
The following weekend, my daughter came to visit me. She told me she was going to make me a grandmother in August. Here was the beginning of my beautiful Christmas. The very next Thursday (December 15, 2005), seven months after reporting to Mayo, I received the call I had been waiting for. I was to report to St. Mary’s Hospital for my transplant. And so a year and a half after my diagnosis, a year after being placed on the transplant list, and seven months after being told I was first on the list, I receiving my three organs, thus fulfilling the promise the bishop had given me earlier in the month.
There were very few complications from the surgery. I was walking by Christmas and out of hospital by the New Year. It is now three months after my operation. I am home and recovering very well. The first time I was allowed to return to Mass after the surgery, I was surprised to see my bishop there. As he walked down the aisle, he pointed his crosier at me as if to acknowledge that he was in the know. When I saw him at the back of the church, he asked me how I liked my new organs. Without anyone telling him, he knew the operation had been successful and that I was doing well. To undergo a successful transplant of three vital organs is a miracle in itself. To have your bishop know this would happen before the fact, is another miracle.
While staying at the hotel by the Mayo Clinic, I witnessed many things that showed me that God was using me to do His work in Rochester. There was always someone to console — someone dealing with a life-and-death situation. Through the skill of the doctors, God works many miracles at Mayo Clinic. I would tell people that God answers prayers in three ways: by saying yes, this is good and it will happen now; by saying later, it is not time yet; or by saying no, I have a better idea. The better idea may not be what we wanted but it is what we need. We may not receive the physical healing we ask for, but we may receive a spiritual healing instead. In the grand scheme of things, this is more important. In this way God helps us grow so as to be able to reach His kingdom.
Every time I went to the Clinic, I would always meet someone who was worse off than I. Seeing those children crippled by birth defects, I would think, “Thank you, God, I do not have this to bear.” There were children dealing with unimaginable pain. I was thankful I did not have to watch my children in such pain. I saw young people dealing with cancer and wonder how they were getting along. At least I didn’t have to cope with that. “Why me?” people would ask. And I would say, “Why not me?”
When you deal with a crisis such as a mortal illness, priorities begin to change. The broken down car is no longer important. The unpaid bill can wait. The small things that used to plague our lives are just that — small things. You realize there are more important things in the world, like helping others. You realize how precious going to Mass and receiving Our Lord in the Eucharist are. I used to say I would do these things “later,” but I now realize that “later” is “now.” There may not be a later. Fortunately, I have learned this lesson, and I hope I can help others realize it too.
I know now that God is in control and that He will guide us in the way He wants things to happen. We must do our part, but ultimately He is the one decides what is best for His children