Phillips Resident, Christina Writz, Donated Her Kidney To 9 Year Old, Shelbie Beres
Imagine reading the medical updates of the child of your first cousin via social media. Imagine seeing a baby born with multiple heart defects who needed a heart transplant at the age of three. Imagine seeing her soar over that hurdle only to later learn that while her heart was getting sick so were her kidneys. Imagine seeing that nine year old little girl, this past February, needing a kidney transplant because her only good kidney was failing. Imagine watching as your first cousin and her husband frantically search for a donor to save the life of their child while also having to provide care for their two other children, Cheyenne, 12, and Jennessa, 2.
That is the situation Christina Writz watched unfold as her first cousin, Angie Beres, and her husband, Jason, searched for a kidney donor for their daughter, Shelbie. In times like these, some people reach out with words of encouragement, prayer, and monetary donations. Far less get tested to see if they could be a donor. Christina made the decision to get tested, learn she was a match, and donate one of her kidneys to Shelbie.
Christina shared how she came to her decision to be Shelbie’s donor. “We are not as close a family as we could be, but I keep updated on what is going on with their family through Facebook. I saw that Shelbie needed a donor, and I felt a nudge in my heart to check it out. The Bible says, ‘Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none,’ Luke 3:11, so I figured that same sharing mentality applies to kidneys!”
Shelbie’s mom, Angie, added, “Shelbie waited about seven months for a transplant. Christy took it upon herself to call about being a potential donor. She let us know she was being evaluated to possibly be a donor for Shelbie, and she's the first one who told us they were a match. Christy will forever hold a special place in our hearts. She has given Shelbie the freedom to be a child once again.”
According to the Beres’, Shelbie is recovering well. She still has some pain from her incision but is tolerating it. As for Christina, her recovery is going well, too. She said she has lots of people praying for her, which has helped. “I am almost back to my old self except that I feel a little tired.”
For those interested in becoming donors, there are a couple ways to do so. Angie mentioned that a person can sign up to be an organ donor at http://www.organdonor.gov Anyone can also put a donor sticker on their driver’s license stating that, should that person pass on, he or she is willing to be an organ and tissue donor.
Being that Christina experienced what it is like to be a living donor, she better explained that process, and also said that anyone who is interested in becoming a living donor can contact Tanya Andersen, the living donor coordinator at Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee, as she will guide the possible donor through the entire process.
According to Christina, her process started in June with a phone interview with Froedtert. The staff talked with Christina regarding her health and informed her of the entire process so she could decide if she was still interested in completing the process. Since Christina was still interested, they tested her to make sure she and Shelbie had the same blood type. Once that was confirmed, Christina’s medical records were reviewed by Shelbie’s medical provider. “I had a 12-hour long doctor appointment at Froedtert where they tested my kidneys to make sure I could survive with only one. They tested everything else you can imagine, as well. If I recall correctly, I think they took about 30 vials of my blood for testing!,” Christina remarked. While there is only a 1 in 3 chance that Christina and Shelbie would be a cross match, which would show that Shelbie’s body would most likely accept Christina’s kidney, it was found they were beating the odds as they were a match. Surgery was then set for a date that worked in the schedules of the booked up hospital, Shelbie, and Christina, who needed to be at her sister’s wedding in late September, because she was serving as co-maid of honor. After one pre-operative appointment, and a cancellation occurring at the hospital, surgery day was October 9th. Christina added, “I stayed in the hospital two nights, came home, and now it is supposed to be 4 to 6 weeks recovery. I am in Week 3 and doing pretty great, though.”
Christina gives credit for her successful recovery to a team of her friends and family. “I could not have done this without the support of those in the community. For instance, my daycare provider, Carrie Shipley, watched my children extra nights when I had to drive to and from Milwaukee for doctor appointments. My church, Victory Christian Center, brought me meals when I was recovering. My co-workers at Slaby, Deda, Marshall, Reinhard & Writz LLP threw me a potluck and sent me get well cards. My in-laws, Paul and Nina Writz, stayed at my house and watched my kids for me when I was having the surgery. My husband, Phil, took four days off work to stay with me during the surgery, drive me home, and care for me. My parents, Tim & Patti Schoenborn, took off work to take me to and from my post-operative appointment. Everyone has been so supportive, and I could not have done this without their help. We are all rallying around Shelbie and her healthy recovery!”
Photo of Christina and Shelbie by Patricia Schoenborn taken on October 19th, after Christina’s post-operative appointment, which was the first time Christina & Shelbie had seen each other in three years.