S: A Transplant Journey
BC: The End
FC: A story of faith & family. A story of compassion. A story of love. The Gift of Life and a new beginning. | A Transplant Journey
1: Once upon a time, there lived two cousins, Lowry and Mysti. Although the cousins lived far apart, they were best buds whenever they saw each other.
2: Mysti grew up, met Andy Henderson and moved to Colorado. She and Andy have two beautiful children, Chelsea and Zane.
4: They are hoping someday soon to start a family of their own. | Lowry stayed in Texas, grew up, and ultimately found his bride, Cristy Hanzelka in 2007. They made a lifelong commitment to each other at their wedding on October 10, 2009.
5: Lowry and Cristy have only been a couple for three years. But during those three years, this couple has endured many difficult and trying times. Lowry has been ill the duration of their relationship - from a new couple, an engaged couple, and finally husband & wife. | Lowry has faced such adversity over the last three years. Hospital stays lasting weeks at a time, the onset of dialysis, removal of both of his kidneys... through it all, Lowry was blessed to have his family and especially his devoted wife, Cristy. | Lowry had dialysis performed 3-4 nights per week, four hours per treatment. Although rigorous and sometimes painful, these treatments were the only thing allowing Lowry to live. Cristy performed his treatments at home until a new angel appeared.... | Dialysis Sucks!
6: Preparing for Transplant | "When Mysti came down for our grandfather's funeral, she stayed with me and my wife, Cristy. She was able to see first-hand what dialysis is like, how it works and what it does to my body. Mysti was allowed into a very private aspect of my life and she realized that although dialysis was keeping me alive, it did not afford me a very fulfilling life. | Memorial Day Weekend, Mysti flew down from Denver once again - this time for testing! After extensive testing, the call came in on Mysti's birthday, June 3rd.... | She's a PERFECT MATCH! | Mysti decided that she wanted to be tested to see if she could donate a kidney to me. While incredibly sweet of her, I did not allow myself to become too excited for the fear of disappointment." | So, one would think, okay...let's do a transplant!! Although Mysti was a match and ready to go ahead with the procedure, we were in for much longer of a wait than either of us anticipated.
7: Finally, July 23, 2010, a day I thought would never come. Methodist assigned us a transplant date. Mysti would forever change my life on August 10, 2010. | Mysti's coordinator informed her that she would need to have one additional appointment with a hematologist due to borderline anemia. Who would have known that this simple consultation would delay the transplant almost two months! | Mysti's coordinator tried to schedule this final appointment with multiple doctors in Denver to no avail. So, it was ONE more trip to Houston for Mysti! On July 12, 2010, Mysti met with a hematologist at Baylor College of Medicine and was finally given the green light! She was cleared for surgery! | The death of our grandfather, Melvo Lee "Curly" Ashley brought Mysti from Colorado back home to Texas. Many people may fault our grandfather for many things; however, I know from the bottom of my heart, Curly Ashley is the reason I am alive today. He brought Mysti back into my life.
8: This page: replicas of two rockets featured at Rocket Park, authentic Mission Control, Lunar Walk Exhibit. Opposite page: Lunar Walk Exhibit and Lunar Vault Samples Exhibit
9: While Mysti, Andy, Chelsea and Zane were all in town, we spent one whole day at the Johnson Space Center, also known as NASA. We had an incredible day touring the facility and learning about all of the exhibits.
10: The local Rosenberg-Richmond paper, The Fort Bend Herald, came out to do a story on Lowry and Mysti. The article was on the front page and included details of the chain of events leading up to the transplant surgery.
11: The Houston Chronicle had previously featured two articles on Lowry's journey back in 2007 and 2008. Chronicle correspondent, Kim Morgan, was thrilled to write a follow up story when she heard the good news about transplant.
12: August 10, 2010: The Big Day is HERE!! | None of us had ever charted these waters. The days events were to be a new adventure for everyone involved. The day I never believed would ever be here. I have thought of this day for the last seventeen years...more often over the last three years. How will I feel when "my day" finally comes? Now that it is here,.. I feel blessed. Blessed with a loving wife, mother, family and close friends. I am in amazement. Amazed by a woman who I only remember as a child, Mysti. Mysti who is not only a wife and mother, a daughter and friend, but also, my cousin. My lifeline. My hero.
13: Family and friends waited at Dunn Tower Level 6 at Methodist Hospital after Lowry and Mysti were taken away into surgery around 12:30 pm. Mysti's surgery was to begin first at around 1:00pm. Dr. Link would perform laproscopic surgery to remove her left kidney. | Lowry's surgery was to begin about one hour after Mysti's had begun. Dr. Knight would implant Mysti's left kidney into the right side of Lowry's abdomen. Lowry's surgery took approximately three and a half hours. We found out later that the surgeons were running a bit late; however, the transplant was a complete success and both patients were doing well! | A kidney removal is called a nephrectomy. Mysti's surgery took approximately three hours and her healthy kidney was transported to the operating room adjacent to hers.
14: The days following the transplant had their ups and downs. Lowry looked AMAZING the very SAME day. His color, which had been missing for years, returned and warmed his face a rosing pink color. A color his wife, Cristy, had never really seen. After adjusting the pain medications, the severe itching subsided, Lowry began to heal.
15: After a day and a half, Lowry was allowed solid foods. He enjoyed foods that he had been restricted from eating for the last two and half years. Foods the average person REALLY takes for granted. For three years Lowry could not eat oranges, beans, chocolate, bananas, avacadoes, and the list goes on and on! With Mysti's new kidney, he was able to enjoy these foods again, and he especially enjoyed the Blue Bell ice cream and oranges. At times, he was denied certain foods (see the photo below), but he was assured the restriction was only temporary!
16: Lowry and Mysti continued to heal over the next three and half days. Although they were both really tired from the surgeries, they made sure to make time to visit with each other every day.
17: After three and half days, Lowry and Mysti were anxious to go home!
18: Lowry and Mysti were each presented with a plaque which included a special poem. Mysti's plaque mentioned what an angel she is to give such a gift. Lowry's plaque mentioned the chance for a new life, free of illness. The hospital also held a little ceremony honoring both of them and their journey.
19: After four days, the time had finally arrived to go home! Lowry was eager to start the healing process at home, where he could really rest! Luckily, Mysti was released the same day and both patients got the opportunity to go home - together! | With a handful of medications, Lowry was released from the hospital, 4 days post-transplant. Although it may seem like a lot of drugs, Lowry was MORE than willing to learn the new regimen. He and Cristy met with the Transplant Pharmacists for about two hours to learn all about the meds and dosages.
20: Once home, Lowry spent most of his days at his mother's house healing, while Mysti and Zane stayed at Lowry and Cristy's apartment. After some follow up appointments, Lowry and Cristy would spend afternoons at the apartment visiting. Lowry and Zane especially liked playing the Wii.
21: Following the surgery, Lowry had MANY follow up appointments. In the beginning, it was two times a day, two days a week! Lab work was drawn and then analyzed and explained. Medications were changed, dosages raised and lowered until the perfect combination was achieved. Lowry had to wear a mask while in public to prevent any type of infection. Things will begin to stabilize about three to six months post transplant. He will have an annual follow up for the rest of his life.
22: Lowry and I had fun times pre-transplant. As a new couple, we tried to do as much as we could to have a "normal" life.
23: Now, post transplant, we are hoping to experience life to it's fullest, without being tied down by a dialysis schedule.
24: Over the last couple of years, Lowry and I have watched our friends and family start families of their own. We are surrounded by young babies and children and LOVE our interactions with all of them! Birthdays, Weddings, Halloween, and Holidays - we are blessed to play with all of them!
25: Lowry and I can't wait to start a family of our own. He is so good with all of our friends' children. I know he is going to make such a great daddy - hopefully one day soon!
26: Mysti, I've thought long and hard about what I wanted to say to you, how I wanted to express my feelings to you. Although you and I have not known each other long, I truly feel like we have known each other for years. I believe this is a testament to something we share in common. We value family, true family, and sometimes "chosen" family. We share the same old-time values of honor, loyalty, honesty and faith. Though we do not share the same "faith", we both understand the meaning of faith - believing in something that we cannot see with our own eyes. Belief in humanity. Belief in love. Belief in giving back. Your gift of life to Lowry has impacted my life more than you will probably ever understand. The man I fell in love with, the man I married, is now so different. Different in such joyous ways. There is a sparkle in his eyes that I have never seen for myself. A love of life not seen before. At our darkest hour as husband and wife, I did not see a future for us. Not because of a lack of love between us, but a lack of love for life itself. You came into Lowry's life and mine, at a time when we needed hope; something that seemed so far beyond our reach. You calmly and confidently guided us down a road of recovery. You not only healed Lowry with your gift, you healed him with your unwavering love. For all of this, I am eternally grateful. Mrs. Cristy Johnston