JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A miracle happened today which has given me a deeper appreciation for Valentine's Day. It has to do with a gesture of love that shocked my entire family. This morning, my mother-in-law received a priceless Valentine's Day gift from a total stranger.
My mother-in-law is a 71-year-old widow who lives with my family in Jackson county. She has diabetes and lost one of her kidneys more than 20 years ago. Her remaining kidney was failing and she has been getting weaker. For nine years now, she has endured dialysis treatments three times a week, and her name has been on a waiting list for a kidney transplant.
We have had our share of disappointments over the years. We would get that phone call from Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans, telling us that they have a kidney and preliminary tests showed a good match with the donor.
Our anticipation builds each time as my mother-in-law packs her bags, fasts all night, and answers a slew of health questions to make sure she is still eligible. Then we would wait anxiously for that final phone call. But each time, the news was the same.
Someone would tell us, "Sorry, the final tests showed the donor and potential recipient were incompatible."
That meant the kidney had to go to someone else. That happened five times. Each let down was emotionally draining, but we kept the faith.
This week, our prayers were finally answered.
Believe it or not, my husband and I were both in church when we got the call. He was attending an Ash Wednesday mass at the cathedral in downtown Biloxi, and I was covering an Ash Wednesday story at Our Lady of Fatima Church.
The lady on the phone said there was a kidney available from a deceased man, and all the tests showed a perfect match. What a big relief! However, there was another obstacle. The doctor must conduct a final test to make sure the donor's kidney was healthy.
We were prepared for another disappointment. But, early this morning, we received the exciting news: The donor's kidney was deemed healthy and the medical center was ready for the transplant.
The surgery took several hours and my mother-in-law has developed some complications. There are still many uncertainties ahead, including the possibility that her body could reject the new kidney. Right now, we can only pray.
We are also praying for the wonderful man who agreed to donate his kidney when he passed away, so he could give someone else another chance at a healthy life. He has touched more than one life today. We are eternally grateful and we will remember his gift of love everyday, especially on Valentine's Day.