By writer to www.maderatribune.com
Courtesy of Sherri DeFina
Matt DeFina, previous to present process a lung transplant in 2020.
Midnight, Might 16, 2012. I stood within the ICU at Stanford Medical Heart and watched my son, Matthew, breathe peacefully, with out oxygen, and with out effort, for the primary time in a few years. However, the lungs doing the respiratory weren’t his — they’d come from a younger man who had lately misplaced his life, whose household had given us the best reward doable via organ donation — new life for our son, who had waged a 34-year battle towards the ravages of cystic fibrosis.
As I quietly cried and thanked God for the miracle earlier than me, I used to be flooded with recollections of the previous, and overwhelmed with gratitude for the longer term that now lay earlier than Matt.
I remembered the actually a whole lot of hours of chest-pounding remedy executed by my husband, Chuck, and me, as we sought to loosen the glue-like mucus from his lungs so he may breathe; of too many physician visits and hospitalizations to depend; of a every day routine of antibiotics and inhalation medicine to maintain his airways and lungs freed from an infection and irritation. And naturally, the grim prognosis that even with all our efforts and our dedication to his well being, Matt would most likely not reside past 4 years.
God, nonetheless, had different issues in thoughts for Matt and for us. We decided early on that we’d management Matt’s illness as a lot as was inside our energy — we’d NOT let it management us. It wasn’t simple, to make certain. I used to be scared, depressed, offended, mournful — all of the feelings related to grief. However I additionally knew that God’s presence, and the prayers of his folks, surrounded us. I frequently sought assist from God’s Phrase, and clung particularly tightly to Isaiah 43:2, “When thou passest via the waters, I can be with thee, and thru the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest via the hearth, thou shall not be burned…” We prayed, trusted, after which, did every thing we may to handle Matt’s illness.
In opposition to all odds, after a rocky begin, Matthew started to thrive. His life, to most exterior observers, was comparatively “regular.” Few folks knew the rigorous chest remedy he endured twice a day; the thirty or so tablets he took to stop an infection and to assist in his digestion; the inhalation remedy he did twice a day to open up his airways. Physician visits and hospitalizations have been scheduled round household holidays, and ultimately round faculty, in order that Matt may expertise life as everybody else did.
One other milestone handed when Matt began faculty. We continued our every day routine, and Matt achieved excellent attendance. He participated in sports activities, in pupil authorities, in neighborhood service tasks, and in our church youth group. His progress continued to amaze his docs and, earlier than we knew it, highschool commencement was upon us! Armed with a number of scholarships, in addition to a deep dedication to succeed, Matt entered Fresno State College, and obtained his BS in Kinesiology. He had discovered early on the significance of caring for himself, and the teachings of duty, dedication, and self-discipline that Chuck and I had endeavored to show him got here to fruition as he entered maturity.
Whereas at Fresno State, Matt met and fell in love with Denise Grigsby, a stupendous lady of nice religion, who turned Matt’s true associate and soul-mate. They married in 2003 and their future appeared assured. Matt labored full-time in pharmaceutical gross sales. They purchased a house and adopted a stupendous child lady, Gracie Religion. Matt obtained a Grasp’s Diploma in Pharmaceutical Advertising from St. Joseph’s College in Philadelphia. Life in his twenties was, as Matt put it, “candy.”
However cystic fibrosis is an unrelenting enemy, and the human lungs can face up to solely so many onslaughts of bacterial an infection. As Matt entered his thirties, life turned harder.
Hospitalizations turned extra frequent, his lung perform started to say no, and, in September 2011, his docs insisted that he go on medical incapacity. It was a last-ditch effort to pay attention fully on his well being, and to try to regain sufficient of his lung perform that his high quality of life would enhance. However that was to not be. Regardless of all his efforts, regardless of his 100 % compliance with remedy and medicine, the cystic fibrosis was lastly successful the battle it had waged with Matt for 34 years.
In April, 2012, the medical workforce at Stanford delivered the information that with no transplant, Matt was not prone to reside for greater than two years. His lung perform had dropped to 22 %, the bottom in his total life. He was on oxygen 24 hours a day. He couldn’t stroll throughout the room with out stopping to catch his breath. However worst of all, he couldn’t maintain or play with Gracie, due to how weak he’d develop into and the trouble it took to breathe.
After a lot prayer, and soul-searching, Matt and Denise determined to maneuver forward with the transplant choice. Matt underwent the entire testing, and was formally positioned on Stanford’s transplant record on April 26, 2012. We have been informed that we may anticipate a 3-6 month wait for brand spanking new lungs. However, as soon as once more, God had one thing else in thoughts!
Simply 2 1/2 weeks after placement on the transplant record, he obtained the decision for brand spanking new lungs. I stood at his bedside and wept tears of pleasure and gratitude. Gratitude for a household who, regardless of their grief, was prepared to present others an opportunity at life; gratitude for a talented surgeon and his workforce at Stanford who eliminated Matt’s battle-scarred lungs and changed them with pink, wholesome ones that might breathe; gratitude for the actually a whole lot of family and friends members who had prayed and trusted God for a miracle in Matt’s life. However most of all, gratitude for the timing, the miracle, and really presence of God on the journey we had been on for the previous 34 years.
And now the remainder of the story…
Quick ahead to 2019. The primary transplanted lungs, sadly, developed persistent rejection and we have been informed that new ones have been wanted. Matt was re-added to the record at Stanford for a second double-lung transplant. God’s military of prayer warriors started to intercede, and in July, 2020, amid the horror of COVID, a miracle occurs. The decision we had been ready for comes — they’d donor lungs out there for Matt. However as a substitute of a easy nine-day hospitalization that astounded everybody again in 2012, this transplant held a a lot rockier street to restoration. Whereas the surgical procedure itself went comparatively easily, the restoration would tax all of our energy, religion, and belief in God. Sudden issues arose day by day, it appeared. Along with his double lung transplant, Matt endured a pneumothorax, eight bronchoscopies, a stent placement, a surgical thrombectomy, a racquetball-sized hematoma, 4 higher extremity ultrasounds, two CT scans, an echo, 4 chest tubes, dozens of X-rays, and a surgical removing of a mediport over a 32-day hospitalization — to not point out a physique stuffed with scars, a street map that tells the story of his 43-year battle with cystic fibrosis.
Matt’s mantra — NEVER surrender, ALWAYS persevere — has carried him via among the most troublesome trials anybody can think about. And thru all of it, he has been surrounded by the love, assist, and energy of his lovely spouse and daughter, a praying and dedicated household, a talented medical workforce, and a whole lot of associates who look to him for inspiration in their very own darkish moments.
However, most significantly, he has been surrounded by the ability of an almighty God who continues to be within the miracle enterprise. The miracle that started in 1977 when Matt entered the world continues to present itself as we speak, in 2021, as he continues not simply to outlive, however to THRIVE!
“Behold, I’m the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any factor too arduous for me?”
— Jeremiah 32:37
And our household will surely reply a powerful “No!”