By writer to www.ellwoodcityledger.com
At first, she thought perhaps it was a joke. Her husband was at all times playing around — cracking jokes, always making her snicker. And as she seemed down on the textual content message on her cellphone, she thought Chris was doing simply that.
“What would you say if I stated I needed to present my kidney to a child,” the message learn.
Wendy Telewicz didn’t reply to her husband instantly. She was at work and, frankly, didn’t take the inquiry critically.
However because the day went on, and she or he continued to suppose it over, she had a sense that her husband, Chris Telewicz, was critical.
So, the one affordable response she had for her husband when she returned to their Pink Lion dwelling that evening was easy.
“It might be a child’s miracle,” she stated.
And that’s precisely what it was for Alex Kepner.
The 17-year-old was recognized with Stage four continual kidney illness initially of his junior yr at Dallastown Space Excessive Faculty. He was on the transplant ready listing for over a yr, and his kidneys have been working between 14 to 18 p.c and getting worse as time went on.
Alex was not on dialysis, which his mom, Jennifer Fink, stated would have made him weaker, however he was getting dangerously near needing it, leaving Fink to surprise: How for much longer can her son watch for a transplant?
Lastly, she took issues into her personal arms and commenced campaigning for a kidney. She had enterprise playing cards made up and posted her pleas on social media always.
“All of the remedy was doing was shopping for him time,” Fink stated. “And as a mum or dad, I felt like I wanted to do extra.”
Chris was at work when he noticed a submit from Jennifer on Fb. A member of his church shared it on her web page, and it struck a chord with him.
He thought again to a dialog he had along with his spouse Wendy, only a few weeks prior.
“We had a dialogue within the automotive,” Chris recalled. “I felt like I wanted to do one thing. My job — I’m a plumber — and I really feel like I don’t actually… I don’t really feel like I’m really serving to anyone doing that work. And I at all times instructed her I felt like I wanted to do one thing totally different.”
“Like an EMT or a physician — I imply, I’m not good sufficient to be a physician,” Chris joked. “However one thing that’s gonna be — a servant that’s gonna assist any person save a life.”
He knew there could possibly be little bit of discomfort when he volunteered to donate one among his kidneys to a stranger.
However within the wider realm of life, does that actually matter?
“All of us have been 17 as soon as, and I imply you understand how it’s to expertise being 16 or 17 years previous,” Chris stated. “You will have your complete life forward of you.”
Chris needed to assist in giving Alex a future, and Wendy received on board, standing beside him.
“We’re trustworthy individuals. God works in mysterious methods,” she stated. “And if he was placing this on my husband’s coronary heart, who am I to say, ‘No, please don’t.'”
‘I wasn’t frightened concerning the well being dangers’
Whenever you resolve to donate your kidney to somebody, it’s not precisely a easy course of.
“The hospital, they actually put him by means of it with testing and historical past,” Wendy stated. “They weren’t taking a kidney from somebody if there was an opportunity they have been going to have issues.”
There have been numerous blood checks, MRIs and a genetic match.
“I assumed it was going to be more durable than it really is,” Chris stated. “That there can be extra steps than it really was. It wasn’t that unhealthy.”
Certain, Chris knew his blood sort was O+, the identical as Alex. However that didn’t assure the 2 can be a match.
“I wasn’t frightened concerning the well being dangers. I used to be frightened if it was going to be a match or not,” Chris began saying earlier than being interrupted by his spouse.
“Chris’ worry the entire time was getting this child’s hopes up and it not going by means of,” his spouse interjected. He shook his head in response to Wendy. She was observing him from throughout the patio desk of their yard. “I used to be the one simply involved for Chris and I didn’t wish to let this child down both.”
After 40 vials of blood and quite a few checks, Chris was instructed he was a match, and on Valentine’s Day Alex’s medical doctors from Hershey Medical Middle referred to as Fink to inform her the excellent news: Her son was getting a kidney.
A delay to the plans
The surgical procedure was scheduled for April 21. It appeared like after months of ready and worrying, Alex and Fink would quickly have some aid — and a brand new kidney.
Then, COVID-19 occurred.
With lower than three weeks to go earlier than surgeons have been set to manage the kidney transplant, the coronavirus outbreak prompted them to delay the operation.
At that time, Chris and Wendy had not contacted Alex. Chris was nervous about reaching out the mother-son duo too quickly.
“I didn’t wish to get the boy’s hopes, Alex’s hopes up,” Chris stated. “Since you don’t know what might occur earlier than that surgical procedure.”
However when the surgical procedure was delayed, Wendy’s motherly instincts kicked in.
“I used to be eager about it at work and I used to be eager about the mother and simply ‘Oh my goodness, she’s gotta be a wreck,'” Wendy stated. “And I stated I feel we should always attain out to her. I do know she’s afraid that we’re going to again out due to COVID.”
So Chris took to Fb and despatched Fink a message.
“He stated one thing like, ‘Jennifer, don’t fear,” Fink remembers. “Inform Alex, I’m nonetheless in.”
And so, the brand new surgical procedure date was set for June 2.
The day of the transplant
It was Wendy and Chris’ seven-year marriage ceremony anniversary the day Chris checked into the hospital for the surgical procedure. The 2 initially deliberate to have fun over a pleasant trip, however as a substitute they spent it separated.
COVID restrictions stored Wendy out of the hospital till the day of the transplant.
When she was capable of get to the hospital, she was confronted together with her nerves. She thought she’d be surrounded by household on today, individuals to maintain her distracted. However as a substitute, she needed to wait alone — occupying herself together with her cellular phone and attempting to reply to all of the relations asking for an replace on Chris.
Similarly someplace else within the hospital, Fink stated she was nervously consuming espresso by the gallon and pacing the halls of the hospital.
“There was positively nervousness within the air,” Fink stated. “Nobody could be completely calm whereas their child is having main surgical procedure.”
Fink wasn’t the one one involved about Alex. Wendy can recall the primary phrases her husband spoke as he started to get up from his personal operation.
“When he was being rolled out of surgical procedure, nonetheless very weak and in ache, coming within the door,” Wendy remembers, “his first phrases from his mouth have been, ‘How’s Alex? Is he executed surgical procedure? Is he OK?'”
‘He gave my youngster an organ. He saved his life.’
Alex got here out of surgical procedure after about seven hours, Fink stated.
Medical doctors instructed her the kidney was working nice, however Alex would should be on a respiratory tube for the subsequent 24 hours.
“Having to look at Alex wrestle towards a respiratory tube is among the most heartbreaking issues I’ve skilled as a mom to this point,” Fink stated. “Was positively a bit jarring to see him intubated with all of the traces going into him and coming off of him.”
Fink and Alex spent seven days within the hospital earlier than he was robust sufficient to return dwelling. Nonetheless, as a result of issues along with his remedy, he was again inside a day and a half for an additional three days.
“He needed to be stored in a single day for remark, however issues turned out OK,” Fink stated over a video name.
Alex sat shut beside her. He was quiet for probably the most half, nonetheless recovering and drained.
“I don’t keep in mind loads about my keep within the hospital,” Alex stated. “However that’s form of a aid.”
Now, Alex simply has to deal with recovering. He must fully rebuild his immune system and will likely be out of faculty till January at the very least, his mom stated.
The restoration course of for Chris is a bit totally different. He’s already again up and strolling — he’s required to stroll at the very least 150 steps a day — however for 4 to 6 weeks he’s to not raise something heavier than a gallon of milk.
So for now, he’s been lounging round the home, usually accompanied by his 4 canines. He and Wendy are looking forward to him to get again to their regular, energetic life-style.
And though their roads to restoration are fairly totally different, Alex and Chris are each wanting ahead to the prospect to fulfill each other.
“We will’t wait to fulfill Chris and his spouse,” Fink stated. “I imply, I might like to say, ‘Thanks,’ however how do you even start to thank this individual? ‘Thanks’ is simply so generic. He gave my youngster an organ — he saved his life.”
“I actually don’t take into consideration that proper now, as being a life saver,” Chris began saying earlier than being interrupted by his spouse.
“Effectively, I imply you saved a child’s life,” Wendy stated, shaking her head at her husband.
Chris shifted in his chair on their patio, “Yeah I do know, however…”
“No, you probably did,” Wendy interrupted one final time.
Sam Ruland is the Pennsylvania points reporter for the York Each day Report and USA At present Community, masking all features of life in Pennsylvania. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, 717-654-8779 and comply with her on Twitter @sam_ruland.