Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Valentines Day Miracle

Sitting in Church, listening to a lovely sermon by our Pastor as a thought drifted through my brain. . . "I wonder if I would feel the vibration of my phone in my pocket if a call came through."  Then, the phone vibrated.  I felt it.  I looked at it and my heart fell about 4 feet to my toes.  It read "blocked", which could only mean one thing on a Sunday morning. . . it was the call we were waiting for. 

After getting the info from the NP on the other end of the line and pushing the thoughts of all of the unfolded laundry I needed to tackle before leaving for who knows how long, I calmly went to the sanctuary and informed Trayvon that his call had come and we needed to leave a bit early to get some things together.  I was remarkably calm for such a momentous moment.  Because the last time the call came, I was anything but calm. . . I was actually quite hysterical and looking back, quite a sight to behold I suspect.  This time though, I felt peaceful. 

We left Church after gathering Sergio, Trayvon, Nettie and Marriela.  We went to the pharmacy to get some meds that were waiting, then to the store to get some allergy meds for Joshua and some diaper cream and hair supplies for Sergio and Marriela.  I unloaded them from the van, and after confirming with all of the kids that there was a good chance that this was the night Trayvon would get his new heart, went to work getting things around the house done. 

There was some speculation that the donor, that wonderful human that gave the greatest gifts at the moment of their family's greatest saddness, would also be able to donate his lungs.  However, Trayvon's team felt strongly that the lungs were not ideal for transplantation and we just needed to hear the "all clear" from the donor's hospital.  So we waited for the final confirmation that we were a "go".  In that time, I gave a hair cut, 2 baths, did one head of hair, folded and put away 4 baskets of laundry, prepared two med bins, started a crock pot of chicken wings for dinner, made all the beds and helped Cody and Marriela fill out all of their Valentienes Day cards. 

At 5:00 we heard that it was going to happen and now we needed to start the arrangements for transportation.  Despite several reassurances that the transportation was all set. . . it was anything but.  I made several panicked calls to Medicaid transportation, as they were the ones responsible for making the arrangements.  The woman told me I needed to call back Monday through Friday during normal business hours.  WHAT!!  I remained calm (have no idea how) and explained that the heart transplant couldn't wait until they opened the next morning at 8:00 am.  Could I please speak with a supervisor.  Phew, the supervisor knew what I was talking about.  However, he didn't know how to activate the orders. . . calling someone else.  Phew, that person knew how to activate the orders. . . but the air ambulance they had approved, wasn't available immediately. . . WHAT!!  Calling someone else.  FINALLY, we received word that all was worked out.  We were to leave Syracuse at 9:00pm and land in NJ at 10:00 catch an ambulance and be at the hospital by 11:00.  Best laid plans never work out. . . it snowed for the 3rd time the entire winter, heavily, near Pittsburgh, PA where our flight was coming from, grounding them for over an hour.  In end, we left Syracuse at 10:15, landed in NJ at 11:00pm and took one hell of an ambulance ride from NJ to New York Presbyterian Hospital where we were happily recieved by the CICU staff at 11:30pm, a full hour and a half late. 

At 1:30am I found myself standing next to my son's operating table trying to reassure him that this is the moment we've been waiting for and all would be well.  They started the meds and his final words, "What if I pass away?" came out of his mouth and then he was out, with a look of sheer panic on his poor little face.  I left that room in a million different peices.  He was getting the gift of a lifetime and yet his departing worry was one I refused to acknowledge.  In the end he left me to wait with that very horror imprinted on my heart and brain.  With nothing more to do, most everyone asleep, I went back to his room, laid down and slept for 4 hours.  At 5:19, the doctor awoke me. . . "His heart is in, beating well and he is doing great."  Less than 4 hours after saying good-bye, he was already laying on that table with a brand new heart. 

7:30am he finally arrives in his room, I'm running on adrenaline at this point.  He looks good.  I was so relieved.  His heart rate was 130, which is normal for a normal heart, but his old heart would never have been able to handle that. . . it was wonderful. 

Since then, we've been on the roller coaster of recovery, as anyone knows about ICU's.  There is typically 2 steps back and 1 step forward.  Sometimes, it's 3 steps back and 2 steps forward, but eventually, in most cases, the forward steps outnumber the backward steps you find yourself staring at your miracle thinking. . . how did you do that?!

There are no words to express how much love I have for a family and a person I don't know.  Their day of sorrow was our day of rejoicing, such a mixed bag of emotions.  One day, I hope to express to them the immensity of their gift.  Let them see just what they've done and how much their loved one still lives on.  Tray will not be shy with his gift.  He wants to run, play, live, love and he will do all with the same enthusiasm he did before his transplant, only this time it will be without limitations, oxygen, IV meds running 24/7, IV lines hanging out all over and medications that ruled his life.  He will make sure that he makes that donor live through him. 

So, the day before Valentines Day, our son recieved a true gift of love. . . a new heart.  The story continues. 


  1. Renee - crying tears of joy for you all... and praising God for this miracle... and grieving for your donor and the heartache their family is going through.
    Ultimately just happy that Tray will have the chance to live (really live) with that new heart and will joyously do all that he couldn't before.
    Love to all you Curkendall's,

  2. Crying as I read your pst. Ihave read every Facebook entry also and you and your sweet boy have been on my mind many times a day. Sending hugs to yo and strength to each of you as I know you are in need. So happy for the gift of life and second chances!


  3. Renee - Although I've been reading every post on FB this truly moved me yet again to tears. What a beautiful gift. Your family is amazing and I look forward to continuing to hear about Tray's progress. Love, hugs and good vibes from SC to you and your family! Sonja

  4. This is the most beautiful Valentine's story I have ever read. So so so happy for you all!!!

  5. I am so happy to hear this news!

  6. Renee- Unbelievable is the power of love -- I'm so moved to have read your story and I am praying for your very brave son! - Amy Fisher Quinn, GFHS Class of 1988

  7. I'm so happy to have found this blog. I've read your Caringbridge for many years. What a wonderful gift Trayvon has been given. Prayers for his recovery and that he thrives with his new heart.