Happy 5th Birthday, Eli & Walker!
In 2009, when we were signing his little body over for heart valve donation, we knew Eli's valves would be eligible for transplant for 5 years. Now today, in 2014, we have located our precious Cambrie (Eli's aortic valve recipient). But back in 2009, 60 months seemed like a lifetime away and I had no doubt there was "plenty" of time for the valves to be requested and used (although I never dreamed we would hear of the outcome and certainly never know "whom" was saved). But for some of our very involved friends, the question has been asked "so what about Eli's pulmonary valve?" and "Will you seek to find that family too?". Well, Jesse and I want to share with you today some very encouraging news regarding Eli's other gift of life...
CryoLife employees releasing balloons to Heaven for Eli on 8/8/14, Eli's "Gift of Life Anniversary". Kennesaw, Georgia
Since our personal involvement with CryoLife and the close relationships we have formed with their team, we have been in negotiations the past few months on the right thing to do if his pulmonary valve wasn't requested by a surgeon 8/28/14 (the expiration date for Cryolife). But our dear CryoLife team had been in touch with a heart surgeon who is excited to use Eli's pulmonary valve for transplant in December in a country not accessible for life-saving pediatric heart surgeries. This program is called "CryoKids". Here is the link to learn more:
What does this mean?
Eli's pulmonary valve will be shipping out of the CryoLife facility in Kennesaw, Georgia any day now and will be on its way to a medical facility in the United Kingdom. When the surgeon with CryoKids arrives into the UK in December, he will then take Eli's pulmonary valve with him to the country in which he will be performing the surgery. Word is that we will receive a summary from the surgeon about his surgery after the first of the year.
Will we search out to know this child?
No. Jesse and I have prayed on this and really searched for God's direction. We feel so absolutely blessed to have and know Cambrie in our lives. We also know that it was a 1 in 100,000,000,000 chance to have actually connected with Eli's recipient. Our heart are very content with the current situation. And with the support of our friends at CryoLife, we have watched this beautiful story transform into somewhat of a miracle in our own lives. I know I've said it before, but how blessed are we to be able to watch this little girl grow up with a living piece of our son inside of her?
We will equally pray and remember the other baby in which will receive his pulmonary valve. We are very excited to know what country our Eli will be associated with forever. But we only see it as right if we continue to speak on the great things that have been done. And just simply, count our blessings.
The last few hours of Eli's life, as a mother holding her dying baby boy tightly in her arms, begging him to let go, I just pleaded and whispered into his ear to please just come back to me. Show me that we were making the right decision. Come back to me in that baby or 2 babies that he would save. He has done that, two-fold. December will be another month worth celebrating in our family, all thanks to CryoLife.
On another bright note, Cambrie's mommy and daddy, Nick & Kiara, will be speaking at CryoLife in October to the staff so that they can hear about the Eli-Cambrie journey from the recipient side of the story. We are anxiously hoping to attend as well to hear them speak for the very first time. They will be flying to Arkansas in November for Thanksgiving and I can guarantee you that the most thankful place in this state of Arkansas will be in this very household.
Team, if you are reading this, please know that you are making a difference in this little family's lives. Thank you for eating and sleeping heart valves, BioGlue, and vascular tissues on a daily basis. Without you, this momma wouldn't feel like she held the hope of the world in her hands. You are doing a beautiful thing!