In May 2008 my husband Dustin and I shared the news to our friends and family that we were expecting our first child later that year. I celebrated Mother’s Day for the first time as an expectant mother overwhelmed with joy with our first born child’s upcoming arrival. In early September 2008 I had a routine ultrasound. Shortly after I returned to work the doctors called and told me to immediately head to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin to see a specialist regarding some complications they had noticed in the ultrasound. My husband and I rushed to the hospital and eventually heard the most devastating news expecting parents could hear, “Your son’s condition is not compatible with life.” We left the hospital feeling helpless and numb. The baby growing inside of me was in renal failure and as a result the baby’s lungs were not developing.
I was induced in early November; we were prepared for the worst — but still hoping to enjoy a few hours with our newborn. As expected when Parker arrived he was not able to breathe on his own. After a few hours passed things were not looking good for our beloved baby. But then we were told there had been marginal improvement in his numbers. The doctors advised us to wait a few hours before pulling life support to see what Parker was going to do. He continued to improve ever so slightly each day. We had big gains followed by even bigger setbacks and this ‘emotional roller coaster’ became our new normal as first-time parents. But Dustin and I were so happy and thankful to have each moment with him.
After five months, Parker was released from the NICU and was strong enough to come home just in time for Mother’s Day 2009. What a very special blessing for me. Although life was nowhere near normal because our baby was on dialysis for 14 hours each day, we were finally able to be a family living under one roof.
Eventually we accepted the reality that Parker needed a kidney transplant. We were both tested as potential kidney donors and I, Parker’s mom, was blessed beyond measure to learn I was a perfect match. Once I was identified as Parker’s donor the transplant would be scheduled based on the timeline that was best for our baby. While we were finally able to take a break from our constant worry about where his life-saving kidney would come from, we started to worry about the medical bills that were piling up at home – before the kidney transplant had been scheduled or taken place. Parker Scaife, 2011 COTA May Calendar Kid
In the midst of so much worry about Parker’s health and the staggering pre-transplant medical bills, a transplant social worker at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin recommended we reach out to the Children’s Organ Transplant Association. From our very first call to COTA we were instantly touched by how friendly and helpful each and every staff member was. They were able to walk us through what COTA does and stressed that funds raised for COTA could be used for almost any transplant-related expenses for a patient’s lifetime.
We officially became a COTA Family in September 2009 and with the help of many friends and family members, we launched the COTA in honor of Parker S fundraising effort – which turned out to be a big success thanks to COTA’s expertise and guidance. The outpouring of support through the COTA community campaign was heartwarming and something we will never forget. It definitely held us up during some dark days.
When Parker was 16 months old, I donated one of my kidneys to him. The funds raised by our COTA volunteers allowed us to focus solely on his health and recovery instead of worrying about how to pay for staggering medical bills … prescription medications … follow-up appointments … regular lab work – and so many things most families do not have to encounter.
COTA was a gift for our family in 2009, and continues to be so today in 2018 nearly a decade later.
Since our March 10, 2010, transplant day, Parker has thrived. But throughout the past eight, post-transplant years, there have been hospitalizations, surgeries and countless prescriptions to fill. Today COTA is still there for us offering guidance, support and help with transplant-related expenses.
It is hard to believe that in a few days I will celebrate my 9th Mother’s Day with Parker and our second son, Kelton. Parker is a strong, compassionate and energetic little man and we are extremely blessed and thankful to have him in our lives and to call him our son.
What a comfort it is to know as Parker continues to grow, COTA will continue to be by his side … for a lifetime.