by Penny Ellison
The Parsons Advocate
Some angels don’t have wings, in fact some angels are even homegrown. Janie Hedrick of Davis can attest to that. Janie’s angel came in the form of her own son, Evan, who recently donated a kidney to help save his mother’s life.
Hedrick found out around seven years ago that she needed to consider a kidney transplant due to renal failure. Hedrick, a nearly life-long resident of Tucker County and daughter of Alvie and Dollie Goff, grew up in Douglas.
“I came out of that appointment with the urologist in tears,” Hedrick recalled. This day was also the first time Evan offered a kidney.
The road that followed for the Hedricks was a rocky one with a large burden falling on Hedrick’s husband Roger. He often had to work a full shift, sleep an hour or two, then drive her sometimes hours to one of countless doctors’ appointments.
After accepting that a kidney transplant was the way to go, it took two agonizing years to even be put on the transplant list. Hedrick had to pass many tests and be deemed as suitable for transplant status.
“Just getting on the list was a huge relief,” Hedrick said. “At that point they could call you at anytime.”
Being on the list didn’t put an end to numerous evaluations, consultations, etc. The average wait to receive a kidney was three to five years. All the while Hedrick had deteriorated to the point where she had to go through dialysis three times a week.
“It was a horrible experience but I had a wonderful (medical) team that helped there.”
To further complicate matters, Hedrick is an O- blood type which makes her a good blood donor but not necessarily an ideal organ recipient. It was at this time the doctors suggested she consider a living donor.
Hedrick recalls her first thoughts being: “No, no, no. I am not going to put anyone through that.”
Hedrick’s son Evan, who was born and raised in Tucker County and now is a youth worship leader in Nashville, Tenn., was found to be a match.
Evan remembers thinking: “Whatever she needed, I’ve seen her sick for so long, whatever she needed to get better.” He told his mother: “Mom I told you years ago I’d do that!”
Like most mothers, Hedrick still had misgivings about allowing her child to do this for her. It wasn’t until the doctors explained the current process, which is nominally invasive, that she begin to consider it.
“When I heard it wasn’t going to nearly kill him to do it that I began to think about it.”
True to the rest of Hedrick’s journey, there were more hurdles ahead. Evan was a good match, however, Hedrick was placed in a high risk/ incompatible group. Since Evan was her offspring, J. Hedrick could have built up anti-bodies against the DNA of Evan’s father, Roger. She had to undergo three treatments of plasmapheresis, which she likened to dialysis. Hedrick said that it separates plasma from the rest of the blood and it is then replaced with a form of synthetic plasma which would help guard against any anti-bodies that would reject the foreign kidney.
Finally the big day arrived and Evan (in his giving nature) presented his mother with a kidney shaped charm for her bracelet.
Following the procedure Hedrick heard the words that every transplant patient longs for. Her doctor told her that her son had given her a B-E-A-U-TIFUL kidney and that the surgery was textbook. The amazing little organ started working pretty much immediately dispelling over eighteen liters of bodily fluids in the first 24 hours. Hedrick has gone on to lose 35 pounds already. She gives credit to the Lord.
“It was God’s guiding hand that brought me to that particular place, doctor, and facility, for it to all go so smooth.”
While post transplant life is a work in progress and Hedrick is still on anti-rejection medication, Evan is recovering speedily and admits he doesn’t feel any different than life with two kidneys. He does have to be more aware of good kidney health for the rest of his life.
Hedrick is looking forward to future. “My five year old grandson has never known me well. What better way to celebrate than to be able to enjoy my family and grandkids. I’ve already bought new curtains and planned on how to re-arrange my kitchen, so I can tell I am getting better!”
Our home-grown angel Evan said: “I’m excited for Mom’s future and to see her feeling better.”
The Hedrick family reminds us that, sometimes, when we need an angel we need look no further than our own loved ones.