Remembering what really matters at Christmas

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Life Moments column
By Christine Bryant

I’ve been a little bummed lately. For Christmas being right around the corner, there hasn’t seemed to be much Christmas spirit in the air.

From getting caught up in the hoopla surrounding the holiday that doesn’t have anything to do with the meaning behind it, to witnessing far too many instances of intolerance and acts of unkindness on social media, it’s left me wondering if we are too swept up in trivial matters that don’t matter at all.

I consider myself a thankful person, but there are many times when I get caught up in the little things and let my frustration get the best of me – someone suddenly stops in front of me, I get overcharged, the kids won’t listen. It’s all too easy to feel like your day is ruined when the grocery store is out of a product you need, or you weren’t satisfied with the meal while dining out.

A few weeks ago I came across a mom on Facebook who had one wish for the holiday season. Her family’s story made me realize while it’s easy to lose the meaning of Christmas, it’s also easy to find it.

Eva Evans is a fourth-grade student in Reynoldsburg. About a month before her 9th birthday, she was raced to the ER with a suspected severe allergic reaction. Instead, doctors discovered she was in kidney failure with only 4 percent kidney function. She would need dialysis and a transplant to save her life.

For the past several months, Eva has endured surgery, countless tests, medications with awful side effects and extensive counseling to help her deal with post-traumatic stress.

After another surgery to implant a dialysis tube into Eva’s abdomen, she began peritoneal dialysis for more than 10 hours a day. Her mom, Alana Brown, had to go through several days of training to learn to perform the dialysis for her daily treatment at home.

To this day, they must remain in the house a minimum of 12 hours a day for treatment until Eva’s transplant.
As a single mother who was accustomed to working, Brown says not being able to work and moving in with her mother has been a humbling experience.

It’s also been an experience that has taught her the power of community. After Eva’s best friend’s mother put a request on Facebook asking residents to be tested as a possible donor match, Brown says several people stepped forward.

“I was amazed and moved to tears by the response we received from total strangers, willing to save my daughter’s life,” she told me.

The family is desperately seeking a living donor because these organs can last longer than deceased organs.

Because Eva is so young, Brown says she likely will need multiple transplants over her lifespan. The average lifespan of a deceased kidney is only about 10 years.

Eva needs a blood type O kidney donor, and while Brown’s family is type A, Eva’s father is a blood match.

However, he is unable to donate due to high blood pressure, and as someone who was adopted, he does not have any blood relatives they know of to ask to donate.

The process to approve a donor can take months, and although the family has a few people who have completed the initial application process, there have been no matches yet that have been approved.

As a mom, I can’t imagine what Brown and her daughter must be going through on a daily basis. Their determination to not only find a donor, but raise awareness on this silent killer – there are often no signs or symptoms until it’s too late – is inspiring.

It’s also a reminder for all of us that it shouldn’t be easy to lose sight of what really matters, and the importance of kindness.

If someone wants to be tested as a possible donor, Brown says the ideal candidate would be someone with type O blood and in good health with no pre-existing conditions. Contact the OSU Living Donor coordinator at (614) 293-6724.

There is also a YouCaring site set up to help with Eva’s medical expenses: youcaring.com/Kidney4Eva.

Christine Bryant is a Messenger staff writer and columnist.

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