Every year when our family gathers for Thanksgiving dinner, we have numerous things to be thankful for – each other, our friends, the wonderful quality of life that we share, and even sometimes, a Yankee or Red Sox World Championship (yes, we are a house divided when it comes to baseball.) But this year will be very, very special, but if you are a regular reader of this blog you already know that – Alyssa has a new kidney, and a much improved quality of life that has come with it.
Thanksgiving dinner at the Deffs will be great example of the “Modern American Family.” In addition to our four kids, joining us will be Deb’s sister Sandy and husband Dan, Dave’s first wife, Bonnie, Sandy’s son Michael & kids Louis & Leana and our very special hero – Michael’s wife and Alyssa’s kidney donor, Jennifer. Many of the TV networks do shows this this time celebrating the heroes among us. Sitting at our table this year will be someone who redefines what a hero is and what it means to give of oneself to help another. It’s called “giving the gift of life,” and to look at Alyssa now and her renewed zest for life, it’s easy to understand how those words are used to describe organ donation. Upon hearing of Alyssa’s approval for a transplant, Jennifer was the first person to step forward and volunteer one of hers, or as we call it LBJ (Little Bit of Jen.) As with most heroes, Jen does not want to talk about her “gift” saying that it was God’s way for her to help someone in need. We know how very lucky we are to have her as part of our family and look forward to sharing a day of special thanks with her.
I would be remiss if I didn’t also offer a word of thanks to the incredible medical teams that have tirelessly worked with Alyssa since January 2009. I know that I’ll get myself in trouble by listing names, so please forgive me if I leave you out. Dr. Kouides has been our team leader, not only with day-to-day care, but also with doing the research and legwork to find & connect us with the A-HUS team at the University of Iowa and our miracle drug Soliris. Dr. Kouides & his PA, Michelle Faulkner are the foundation upon which team Alyssa is built! Alyssa’s GP, Dr. Jane Salamone and her nurse, Barb Tartaglia, have been the glue that holds Team Alyssa together; and our newest members from the transplant team at Strong, Dr. Carlos Maroquinn, Dr. Mabel Bodell, Jennifer Timm and Judy Gierlach. Thank you to all of you and those that have worked with you to help Alyssa.
We are also thankful for the expertise and support of all the many medical professionals who helped us get to this point in time. In the past year and a half, Alyssa has been a patient at Unity, Rochester General and Strong Memorial and there were countless people in all of those hospitals who deserve thanks, many of whose names we don’t even know. We are also very thankful to the Peritoneal Dialysis team at Rochester General and the Red Cross nurses who handled Alyssa’s apheresis and the neurology, nephrology, respiratory and hematology depts. of all the hospitals, and the transplant floor of Strong……thanks a million to all!!!! And of course, thanks to the University of Iowa for their expertise in the genetic research and use of Soliris (and thank you Alexion). We are thankful for our A-HUS family (namely—the Foundation for Children with A-HUS) and all of the research and helpful support they have provided. Alyssa is especially thankful for her new friend Jill from Arkansas and the special bond that they share.
And, a special thanks to all of you that have been with us throughout this tough period. We so appreciate all you cards, gifts, letters of support and the many dinners sent our way (if you are missing a bowl or casserole dish, please check with us = ) .) We have tried to keep up with thank you notes, but please forgive us if you haven’t gotten yours yet. Your support has played a very key role in keeping Alyssa and us on the right track and we are so thankful to have you in our lives!
May you and yours have a very Happy Thanksgiving!