Monday, February 14, 2011

A love story

Today is Valentine's Day. A day for celebrating love. A day for exchanging of gifts and exchanging of cards and exchanging of sweets and all-around heart-encircled, pink paper-wrapped, warm, fuzzy love. So today I want to share a love story with you.



Once upon a time (isn't that the way all love stories start?). . . .

Actually, this love story starts with a bad story. The story of a lady who worked for years as a nurse. Back before the precautions now undertaken routinely, this lady nursed the sick and the dying. And from one of her very ill patients, this lady caught hepatitis C.

Of course, this nurse had access to very good medical care, and she received good care. But the hepatitis C didn't go away. Over time, the disease did irreparable damage to her liver. The damage was gradual, though, so the nurse continued to live as full a life as possible. Eventually she was placed on the list for a liver transplant, but her ranking was not high. Her liver still worked well enough that other patients always ranked higher.

Finally her liver function became so bad that she was a higher candidate for transplant. Many years had gone by, though, so by this time her age knocked her back down the transplant list. She was not old, but she was past the age of being a prime transplant candidate. Finally, her physicians predicted that she had only 18 more months to live. It was obvious that she would not reach the top of the transplant list before her liver reached the end of its functionality.

So her family began seeking a living donor for her. The liver is a marvelously designed organ. Amazingly, it can regenerate itself. Half a healthy liver can grow into a whole liver. The patient's family hoped that one of them would be able to share a liver with her. What a great gift to share life with a beloved sister or mother!

But no one matched. None of the family members was able to share. And time marched on.

Finally, the family decided to open the search. They put forth the need and invited anyone who might be interested to inquire about becoming a living donor. The eighteen months of life were dwindling, and a transplant was the only hope.

This is the point at which I learned about the patient. Because the patient is a friend of one of my best friends, Sonya. And this is the point at which Sonya told me that she was being evaluated as a possible liver donor.

Now, Sonya is one of the busiest people I know. She serves in campus ministry. She serves on the board of a Christian school. She has three children of her own, one of whom just had shoulder surgery a few weeks ago. Her only daughter is about to graduate from high school. She has a lot on her plate: surely no one would expect her to consider becoming a living organ donor. Of course not.

And no one expected it, but Sonya felt compelled to offer. After she passed the initial round of evaluations, she felt compelled to consider it further. And after she was determined to be an ideal candidate, she felt compelled to go forward.

So today Sonya is in Chicago, waiting and praying with the family of her beloved friend. Tomorrow morning, Sonya will be the first of two people to be placed under anesthesia. Tomorrow she will undergo surgery to have half her liver removed. Tomorrow her friend will undergo surgery to have her own diseased liver replaced with half of Sonya's healthy liver. If all goes well, Sonya will spend this busy springtime recovering from the pain of abdominal surgery and then recovering from the fatigue of losing half her liver. It will be a hard road.

But because of Sonya's sacrifice, her friend will have a chance at life.

That's a love story. Somehow, in the midst of the Valentine's Day hoopla, it's easy for me to think of love as something that I should be receiving. It's much too easy for me to think that I deserve flowers or chocolates or jewelry. It's easy for me to forget that real love is all about giving.

But Sonya's story reminds me of the greatest of all love stories. It's an echo of the story of Jesus--not a story that Jesus told, but one that Jesus lived. Jesus told his friends, "Greater love has no one than this: that someone lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). And then he demonstrated that love by doing that very thing.

That love lives in Sonya's heart. That love is what compels her to give. That love is wrapped in gauze, not in fancy pink paper. But that love is real. That love is worth celebrating.

Happy Valentine's Day, my friend.

21 comments:

Richella said...

I was trying Disqus for comments. I decided I didn't really like it, not for this little blog. So I'm back to plain old Blogger comments now. Unfortunately, I lost a few comments that were left with Disqus. I hate that; they were nice comments from really nice people. But this feels more like the way I want things to be with my blog--just plain old me, loving to hear from anyone who wants to drop by.

Shelly @ Life on the Wild Side said...

I have tears in my eyes as I read this, Richella. What a beautiful story. Please let me know if your friend needs anything while she's in Chicago--you know it's just a hop, skip, and a jump for me to be there. I will be praying for her this week.

Holly said...

That's a beautiful, touching story! What a selfless friend.

Dianne said...

Thank you for sharing this story today..my Bible verse for today is Gal. 6:2 Carry each others burdens...God is really telling me today that to really "carry" someones burdens it takes effort...and sometimes pain..on our part..Happy Valentines Day

Katherine @ Grass Stains said...

What a beautiful, beautiful story, and so appropriate for today. Valentine's isn't just for lovers! :) This is probably the best love story I'll read today. Thanks for sharing, Richella.

Dawn said...

i love the echo of His heart, and yours. and what a gift for your friend to give. and while it seems so big and too much, can't you see yourself giving such a gift witout a second guess? xoxo

Tracey said...

Praying!

Judy @ A Meek Perspective said...

One of my friends donated her kidney to me 4 1/2 years ago. Such selfless love. Something you never forget. Prayers for your friends! Hope their health returns as ours has.

Judy :)

Heather said...

That is a wonderful story!

Southern Lady said...

What a lovely story. My aunt gave a kidney to her daughter in law over ten years ago. I can think of nothing else as selfless as that. I am praying for wonderful results for both patients. Carla

HeathahLee said...

That is sacrificial love at its finest. Thank you, sincerely, for sharing this.

Scooper said...

Oh, what a beautiful story. And I love that it's true! People like your friend inspire me to live more sacrificially. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. Happy Valentine's Day, sweet friend! I do hope you got something chocolatey or flowery or sparkly. : )

Traci@ Beneath My Heart said...

Amazing story Richella! That is true love. Sacrificial love..the way He wants us to love.

Terri said...

I love this story! So amazing!! Praying that everyone recovers and lives happily ever after. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful and selfless act. Blessings!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Richella for sharing such a beautiful story with us-one that is about 'true' love. I hope all goes well and please keep us updated. xx Mary

Craig said...

Wow. I know this in my head, and most of the time in my heart - but this really brought it home.

Love is never ever ever ever - ever - about myself. This is love. So good. Thank you.

God Bless.

Leslie @ goodbye, house! HELLO, HOME! said...

Doesn't it say in the Bible: "No greater love has a woman than this: that she give half her liver for a friend"?
:)
How brave they both are---this story truly blessed my heart.
I pray, Lord, that you give both ladies a swift recovery, and we thank you for creating our bodies in such amazing ways! Amen.
HUGS!
~me

Laryssa Herbert said...

Beautiful!

melissa * 320 Sycamore said...

Richella~what a beautiful story. That is *true* love, in action. Will you give us all an update in a later post? Love you!

Cherri Engle said...

That is such a beautiful story. I read it with tears in my eyes. Thank you so much for sharing it with all of us. I will be praying for Sonya's recovery and that of her friend's as well. God is so Good!

Steph said...

Beautiful! Will be keeping those two in my thoughts! My neighbor just underwent a liver transplant in January, and his wife was the live donor! They have three small children and the transplant took place in a hospital 12 hours away from home! Both are doing beautifully!

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