S CHRISTIANS, we are taught never to ask “why,”
but to accept God’s will. However, the human instinct typically
takes over and we want to challenge God’s reasons for why
something is happening to us. As a healthy young man with a loving
family, God saw my life in ways that I did not. He saw it was time
to pull me back to Him. I didn’t understand His will and when
I was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease, I thought my strength
would overcome it.
Around Christmas 1999, I became very ill and knew my body could
not fight the disease any longer, yet I did not feel ready to go
on dialysis. My whole world would change. I wondered if I would
be able to work, play with my children, fish or do the other things
that normal, healthy people do. Finally, my wife convinced me it
was time, and I was placed on peritoneal dialysis. I had to be hooked
to a machine for eight hours each night, then wake up the next morning
and go on with my life.
I was placed on the transplant list shortly after I began dialysis.
The possibilities of receiving a match seemed more unlikely with
each passing day.
July 23, 2001, I recall sitting in the break room at CHRISTUS Jasper
Memorial Hospital with a couple of Associates and jokingly saying,
“Well, when I get my transplant, I won’t be able to
eat this food!” That evening shortly before midnight, the
phone rang and a voice on the other end said, “Mark, are you
still interested in receiving a kidney transplant?” At that
moment, I experienced feelings of joy… and fear. Was I really
I looked at my wife’s face and saw tears roll down her cheeks.
At that time, I knew that if I didn’t have the transplant
for my own sake, it was certainly for those I loved. We prayed and
prepared for the coming hours.
The next step was to travel three hours to determine if I was a
match. At 6 a.m. on July 24, I received a message that I would be
scheduled for a kidney transplant that afternoon. As the team of
surgeons prepared me, we learned that a 16-year-old girl had lost
her life in an automobile accident, and she had indicated her willingness
to donate her organs to help others. That afternoon, I went through
a three-hour surgery that was a success. I remained in the hospital
for six days.
When I returned home, I knew my gift was from God when my 5-year-old
daughter looked at me and said, “Daddy! No more tubes!”
My family and I cherished the new life we had, but there was still
a void around us because of knowing so little about the young lady
who had given us this second chance. We finally learned that the
answer to our prayers was a blonde, blue-eyed girl named Samantha
Whitney who had lived in Richmond, Texas. We learned that she loved
life and people, and had told her parents that if anything happened
to her, she wanted to help others by donating her organs.
As I think back now and still wonder why these things happened the
way they did, I realize only He knows the answer. Life is tough
at times, but can you imagine what your life would be like without
God? I will forever be grateful to Samantha and to God for giving
me a second chance. Their spirits will forever live within me.
CHRISTUS Jasper Memorial Hospital