Gary Health Update

Gary_outsideGary’s journey has had many twists and turns since we last spoke with you.  After an exhaustive search for answers over the last 8 months we have landed on the best treatment plan for Gary at this time.

We first had to clarify and remind ourselves what our goal is.  The goal here is to choose a treatment that can provide Gary with the best quality of life and the greatest life expectancy.

We have decided that Gary will not have a kidney transplant at this time.  He will be monitored on a monthly basis and check in with the transplant team every three months.  Gary’s kidney function has not improved per se but it has stabilized.  He is currently free of symptoms.  He is feeling pretty good.

We have been advised to stay on the current course unless any one of the following three circumstances occurs:

  1. Gary’s medical test results take a turn for the worse
  2. Gary has a collection of symptoms
  3. We are at risk of losing our beautiful and generous living donor

We are at peace with this decision for now.  We want to just move forward and enjoy life. We feel so much love and gratitude to all of you who have and continue to stand by our side.

We pray and hope that our current viable living donor and the backup donors will not abandon us.  We hope they will continue to make themselves available when the timing is right, when the transplant becomes Gary’s only chance for a quality of life and greater life expectancy.

In the meantime, a big piece of “enjoying life” for us is helping others.  We plan to devote much of our time giving back, joining others in trying to make a positive difference in people’s lives.

Sending love and gratitude…

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What brings you hope?

Hope is the bridge

To the next stage of your life.

Go forward

With hope in your heart,

You will not fall. – Karyn D. Kedar

 

Honestly, I never really thought about hope.  Not until Gary needed to find a living kidney donor did I wonder if I could stay hopeful day after day, week after week, month after month.

I guess everyone finds a different path to hope.  For me, I find hope every single day through the unwavering love and support of friends, family members and our spiritual community, Congregation BJBE.

As if that wasn’t enough, I was fortified and inspired even more when the courageous heroes stepped up to donate their kidney to Gary.  Yes, the goodness in people fills me with hope.  It fortifies and inspires me daily.

 

Hope is like peace.  It is not a gift from God.  It is a gift only we can give one another. – Elie Wiesel

 

Please share with me what brings you hope.  Send me a note.

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Gary Campaign – Such Humanity

Wow- I could not believe those words.  The words from the Northwestern Memorial Hospital transplant team nurse, “Mrs. Greenberg, you can put a hold on your search for a living kidney donor.”

What?  Really? I exclaimed.  What does that mean? I asked.  The nurse explained that they were working up a strong candidate and there are one half dozen potential donors as back up.

I was in shock and disbelief.  I was beside myself – giddy with excitement, overwhelmingly relieved, and consumed with gratitude and love.  Full of love for people I did not even know; yes, complete strangers because individual potential donors are anonymous.  Maybe the person is my neighbor, the clerk at the local Jewel, a congregational member I see at Kol Shabbat on Saturday mornings, maybe an old high school pal or a person from across the country in Oregon.  I have no idea, yet I immediately feel unconditional love and gratitude for this person and the rest of those who have stepped forward.

Now what?  Next steps include Gary going through a rigorous battery of pre-transplant testing.  We have completed two trying days so far. May 13 will be our third day of several doctor appointments and tests.

Will Northwestern give Gary the green light to move forward?

Will a living kidney donor sustain his or her courage and generosity through to surgery day?

Oh my, please continue to stay with us and hold us close, as we venture forward on this uncertain journey. Your compassion and kindness, and your humanity give us strength and courage each and every day.

Love Marti

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Social Media- What’s the Verdict?

ImageSocial media is the interaction among people in which they create, share or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks.

What is the verdict?  Has social media helped or hurt our efforts to find Gary a living kidney donor?

Let’s turn to our three social media gurus……

It all started on October 28 when we learned of Gary’s prognosis.  Laura Fox, Gary’s niece was contacted and within 24 hours she had our story splashed on the Internet through our customized website and Facebook page which she created.  In 24 hours we were telling our story to thousands of people.

Laura had to step away from the campaign to welcome their second child into the family.  In walked two more incredibly sharp social media specialists Marilyn Mages and Alicia Carpenter.

Marilyn came to us with an extensive background in communication.  She was excited about making a contribution to our cause, to making a difference in our lives.  She believes that social media is a very important tool for generating exposure and recruiting people to help.

“Stepping outside of yourself and helping another person is important.  It really does take a village.” Marilyn shared.

When Marilyn joined Team Gary she brought with her another maverick, Alicia Carpenter.  Alicia has a background in graphic design and marketing.  She was attracted to social media because she saw it as the “up and coming” method.

Alicia has been very creative in using social media to spread the word on our behalf.  She knows how to think outside the box to get the job done.

Alicia feels “social media helped to spread the word, gained us more followers, assisted in Team Gary community building and helped to educate the public on the need for living organ donation.”

Well the verdict is in…..
Thanks to Laura, Marilyn, and Alicia social media has been a tremendous asset in our efforts to find Gary a living kidney donor.  More than 12 individuals from across the country have stepped up to be tested.  We are hoping to have good news soon that a viable donor is found, Gary is cleared for the surgery and the transplant is scheduled.

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World Kidney Day

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For more information click here

 

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This Event Has Been Cancelled

Save The Date!

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When Navigating Turbulent Waters, Be Sure to Have a Friend at Your Side

Hi, I am Meryl Wassner, Gary’s sister-in-law.  As you can imagine, with Gary being Marti’s life partner for 30 years, we have spent much time together, experiencing all of the life cycle events, many holiday celebrations, sporting events, and family milestones. On the livingdonorlove home page, I am standing between Ben, Gary’s step-son, and Marti herself as we celebrated Bret’s graduation from the University of Illinois. There was no prouder father than Gary on that memorable day, standing with his son, at his own alma mater!

This past week I have been reflecting on a very special experience that Gary and I shared over 20 years ago that revealed a side of Gary which caught me by surprise and made me smile…and still does.

Marti and Gary would invite me to dinner every year on my birthday. Marti would prepare my favorite meal and ask what I wanted to do to celebrate. This particular year, the Omni-Max theatre was showing the feature about the Grand Canyon… in full blown three-D, which was a brand new innovation at the time. (I know, I am showing my age!)

Immediately after a scrumptious meal, just Gary and I headed into the city for our big night. We had both been told that both the three D and the alignment of the seats (90 degrees, straight up) in the theatre made the experience of watching VERY close to the real thing. Well, we had NO IDEA what was coming….

Within five minutes of the lights going down, the sound of the thundering rapids of the south rim surrounding us and the rocking of our canoe from side to side had us both screaming and laughing at the top of our lungs. We each spontaneously grab for each other’s hand to prevent one another from falling into the rapids! So much fun!

It seems Gary is still riding the waves, at times being taken into rough waters without being certain of the outcome. Well, we are here to say that he will NEVER be alone in the canoe. 

Much love, Meryl

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Learn more about Living Kidney Donations at this local event

Learn more about Living Kidney Donations at this local event

Living Kidney Donation Presentation
Monday, February 17th
Northbrook, IL.

http://www.LKDN.org

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Valentines Day – National Donor Day

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Valentines Day is about showing love.  National Donor Day is about showing love in more than just the traditional way.  People can save lives through blood donations, marrow drives and organ donation.

On any given day, 112,998 people are waiting for an organ; on any given day, 18 of those people die waiting.

Gary needs to find a living donor kidney within the next six months. You can help us spread the word or connect us with someone who may want to donate. Please visit us at livingdonorlove@gmail.com.

Photo Source

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My Beshert, My Soul Mate

ImageHi.  I am Marti, Gary’s wife.  This May 12th it will be thirty years since the day we met.  While much time has passed, I can remember the day we met like it was yesterday.

One day the phone rang as I was unpacking boxes; I had just moved into a new apartment as a single mom with my son, Ben.  It was my good friend and message therapist, Meg.  She told me she knows a guy that I might want to meet.  Would it be OK if she gave him my number? she asked.  With much trepidation, since I was just recently divorced, was working full time, had just moved, and was raising my two year old son as a single mom, I said, OK, but only if she made it clear to him that I have no interest in a serious relationship.  I would be willing to grab a meal or catch a movie, I explained.

A few days later the phone rang and it was this stranger, Gary, on the other end of the phone.   We had a good chat.  He seemed nice enough.  Then he asked me if I would like to get together.  I told him that would be fine but could he please call me back in a month. Surrounded by boxes, I was overwhelmed in our new apartment. With that, we got off the phone.

Exactly one month later the phone rang.  It was Gary again.  He asked if I wanted to come to Lincoln Park for a day at the zoo and a bite to eat. I agreed.

We rendezvoused at his place.  We walked, talked, laughed, ate, visited with the animals.  I knew that day we shared a special connection.  Never in a million years did I imagine that 30 years later we would still be sharing good times together.

Thank you, Meg, for introducing me to my Beshert.  Such a loving, kind, honest, fun, smart, romantic man named Gary.

Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t all been fun, that is for sure.  Work and worries, joy and sorrow, dealing with small and big problems, navigating compromise – oh so much compromise, these years together.

But in the end, I feel like I am one of the luckiest gals around, to have partnered thirty years of my life with this man.

From the bottom of my heart, from the core of my being, I pray that some courageous, loving, generous person will step up and share their spare with my wonderful husband, my Beshert.

We have so much more life to share together, if we are just given the chance.

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