StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//img-DJr87nwnwz.jpg’, ‘Photo provided by Mike Stone’, ‘KIDNEY TWINS: Father and son Mike and Luke Stone one year after transplant.’);
Editors note: Father and son Mike and Luke Stone of Rockford underwent a kidney transplant May 20, 2003, at Stanford University Hospital in Palo Alto, Calif. Luke, who was 7 at the time, suffered from cystinosis, a rare metabolic disorder characterized by an abnormal accumulation of the amino acid cystine in various organs of the body. There have been no signs of rejection since the transplant.
What follows is a letter from Mike Stone to his son, Luke, celebrating their one-year anniversary.
When your 11.5-pound bundle of babyhood came forth naturally from your mothers loving womb on Dec. 5, 1995, I felt Christmas had come early that year. I never thought I would witness anything close to the courage your mother displayed in bringing you forth to this world. It truly gave me pause to the real extent of the human spirit (when guided by God).
Under such painful and unavoidable circumstances, I now know it was a preparation for what lay ahead in our lives. When you were 2, your first emergency room visit tried to be our wake-up call for your extremely rare metabolic disorder called cystinosis. Alas, it would take two more years of doctor and emergency room visits, a misdiagnosed kidney biopsy, thousands of milliliters of daily medications, and, finally, a trip to Mayo Clinic to put a name to this culprit.
I want to let you know, Lucas, that your willingness to take all those medicines (some worse than spinach), then and now, every day, gives me a strength to face each day myself with the proclamation of yes, I can.
We had hoped you would make it into your teen-age years before the inevitable would take place. But God had other designs for us all!
Days before Christmas 2001, your kidney function took a turn for the worse, and emergency dialysis procedures were upon us. A kidney donor from a list for a child could take three to five years, and your childhood was being held ransom. That summer, the whole family went to Minnesota to start the family donation procedures. Your mother and I were both willing to give you a kidney, but she had the honor first of giving you the gift of life.
Later that summer, we learned about the new steroid-free transplant from the cystinosis conference. Stanford in California was a long ways away, and you would have to stay for 100 days afterward. But it was the best option for our brave son.
We flew to California in November 2002 to begin the testing and, of course, will never forget the day at the beach in Carmel when a sleeper wave almost drowned the whole family. God was sure with us that day.
We flew back to California in May with bags packed for the summer, wonderful gifts from your classmates to put in your hospital room and a kitten that would make us laugh at the simple things in life.
On May 20, 2003, the Kidney Twins were born at the hand of God and the hands of the most incredible transplant surgeon in the world. I may have given you my kidney, but your mother gave you her heart and soul since that day in December 1995. The unwavering love and tenderness I witnessed from your mother after the transplant is only comparable to the day you were born.
Three weeks later, you would be released from the hospital to return to your summer home. I will never forget watching you run down the hall with your brother and sister, who have been the greatest helpers through all of this and love you very much! You all made that Fathers Day the greatest one I will ever know, and look forward to every one since.
On this anniversary (absolutely NO sign of rejection!), I want you to know, Lucas David, that I may have played a part in saving your life, but you have played a part in saving mine. Please remember what I remind myself of every day:
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course lie all the varieties
And realities of your existence:
THE BLISS OF GROWTH;
THE GLORY OF ACTION;
THE SPLENDOR OF BEAUTY.
For yesterday is already a dream,
And tomorrow is only a vision,
But TODAY, WELL LIVED.
Makes every yesterday a dream of happiness.
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day and this moment.
I will love you always and forever, my little Pinocchio.