A story of the special relationship between a father & daughter, and how God answers a desperate prayer.

Submitted by Andi Cronan:

Let me first say I don't know if this qualifies as a Church Project "story." I do know that it's MY story and whenever I tell it, especially to people that have never heard it, or non-believers or wavered Christians, they say it renews their faith in God and his ultimate plan. I love that. 

I found out my Dad was diagnosed with Leukemia.

When I was pregnant with my 2nd child, a son - William, while we were living in Louisiana (we had been in the Woodlands, my husband Kevin Cronan, grew up here and works for Anadarko, and they moved us temporarily out there for a specific project he was in charge of) I found out my Dad was diagnosed with Leukemia. I'm an only child and once my mom called with the news and said they were in the hospital and waiting on an oncologist to find out more, I packed my bags (and my 2 year old daughter, Addison) and drove the 5 hours home (Spring, Tx) to hear the diagnosis in person with my parents. My in-laws in New Caney watched Addie while my mom and dad and my pregnant self heard the devastating diagnosis. Leukemia and Lymphoma - a double whammy and not good. 

Not MY Dad. No way.

I left in tears that day. I knew Dad had been tired, I knew he had not been himself the past couple times I had seen him, but cancer? No way. We're talking about a man who ran track on scholarship at Baylor University. A man who lifted weights and went to the gym and considered fitness a top priority his whole life. Not MY Dad. No way. 

(I guess right now I should put in a disclaimer that he's biologically not my REAL Dad. My Mom married him when I was 2 (she divorced my biological father a few months after I was born because it was an unhealthy relationship) but he's the only Dad I've ever known plus he legally adopted me so yeah, he's my Dad, in all ways shape and form, just not blood.) But hold on, stay with me....

My Dad did a few rounds of chemo and it worked. Hallelujah, prayers answered. He's cured. Amen! Awesome. We were in celebration mode, we knew nothing could keep this man down. Life was good. 

...we knew nothing could keep this man down. Life was good.

Skip forward a few years. He starts showing symptoms again. Goes in for testing, sure enough, the cancer is back. But worse. It's bad. He goes in for chemo, not working. Starts radically going downhill, admitted to MD Anderson. It was decided that he would need a stem cell transplant (bone marrow transplant) in order to live. They say siblings are the best bet in this scenario. He had 5. None were a match. We had to go to the national registry. Thank God there was a match. We did not know him at the time bc donors are anonymous,  but a man by the name of Trent Noel of the United States Navy was a match. The ONLY match. (We were able to find this out 2 years later, after searching) The registry contacted him, he agreed to donate his stem cells and on 11/13/2009 the transplant took place. We were there. Praying. Not only for Dad but for this anonymous donor whom we knew nothing about. What a sacrifice. Would it even work?

It did!

The transplant was a success. My dad was cancer free again. Thank you Jesus! You are good! Amen.

Fast forward a little bit. Dad starts having complications due to all the anti-rejection drugs he has to take after the transplant. Admitted back to MD Anderson. He starts having major issues with the medications, had seizures and goes into kidney failure.

We are still hopeful. It's not cancer! It's ok! This is do-able.

Dad goes on dialysis 3x a week. He is miserable. Life sucks. He is debilitating and depressed. Not the man we once knew. 

Dad goes on dialysis 3x a week. He is miserable. Life sucks. He is debilitating and depressed. Not the man we once knew.

He is better, though. Cancer free. He's considered in remission from the leukemia and they give him the go ahead to possibly have a kidney transplant. This is his dream. Our family's dream. It can get him back to a normal way of life. No more machines, no more dialysis. But it will be extremely hard, the doctors said. Very hard to find a match.

This is where it gets interesting and I come in. "I'll get tested!" I say, right away. "I could be a match!" 

"No," they say. "Insurance only pays for a few people to be tested and considered and siblings are the first choice. You're not a candidate, Andi. You're not blood related. Sorry." 

"I understand," I say.

So I start praying and praying and praying for a match for my Dad.

So I start praying and praying and praying for a match for my Dad. And I don't understand or comprehend but I FEEL like God is telling me to get tested. And I'm almost embarrassed to tell my mom because I know how far fetched it is but I tell her God has put this on my heart and please let me go through with it. Please. 

They agree (to pacify me, I think, I'm their only child) and I am the first person to undergo testing for a kidney match. It was hard. I did every test in the book. I had to not drink anything for a few days and stay in the hospital so they could monitor my urine output. I had to have an MRI. I had to have a cat scan. I had to have a heart exam. The blood tests were the worst. I think I probably gave about 50 vials of blood throughout the whole thing. And this is where I got discouraged. Because I knew my dad and I did not have the same blood type. He was born an "A" and I was an "O." We weren't to be a match. 

He was born an “A” and I was an “O.” We weren’t to be a match.

But little did I know that when my Dad had the stem cell transplant, it changed his DNA and his blood type. He was now an O. 

And I was a perfect match. 

What?!?

When they called me in and the doctors told me, I lost it. I immediately started crying. I felt relieved. I KNEW that God was telling me something and I was just going on blind faith. Nobody believed me, nobody thought anything would come of it. But I knew and I was validated. My dad and I aren't biologically related, there is no way I could be a perfect match is what the doctors said. But we were 99.9% a perfect match. 

So here we go - Sept 6, 2011. Transplant day. 

I wake up and kiss my babies goodbye (now 8 and 5) and walk into Houston Methodist hospital at 5:00 am with my husband at my side. It is safe to say he had mixed feelings about the surgery about to take place. (What if something happens? What if they mess up? You can't live without a kidney? What if you die?) 

But I am calm. This is to be. I am ready. I am excited. My Dad and I do pre-op together and I am taken back first. My worst fear is that the kidney won't take. That they'll take it out of me and put it in him and it dies. And this was all for naught. And we're back at square one. I remember being so scared once they gave me the anesthesia. I was in one operating room with one team and my dad was in the next with another. And my mom was in the waiting room FREAKING OUT because both of the people she loved the most in life were being operated on. Her daughter she gave life to and the man she married. And MY husband was in the waiting room holding her hand and praying. 

It didn't take long, apparently. 

"An easy surgery," they said. 

"Amazing," they said.

When I came to later in my room, the surgeon and his assistant came in to talk to me.

Apparently I had one extra artery on my donated kidney. And this extra artery made it that much easier to surgically remove and attach to my Dad. They said it was "miraculous" and that it "was like it was always meant to be donated. Couldn't have asked for an easier surgery." 

They said it was ‘miraculous’ and that it ‘was like it was always meant to be donated.’ They couldn’t have asked for an easier surgery.”

When I heard that I smiled. It was what I knew in my heart all along. This was MY story. I was always meant to donate that kidney. I knew it. When my Mom married my Dad 30 something years ago, HE knew this. God always has a plan. We may not always know it or understand it. But it is there. And sometimes you just have to pray and have blind faith that it will be revealed in due time. 

God always has a plan. We may not always know it or understand it. But it is there.


• 3,000 new patients are added to the kidney list EACH MONTH
• 12 people die EVERY DAY waiting for a kidney transplant
• Every 14 min somebody is added to the kidney transplant list

To learn more about kidney donation, visit: 
houstonmethodist.org/AboutKidneyTransplant

To get involved in becoming a donor, visit:
bethematch.org

To follow the history of Bill's story on Caring Bridge, visit:
caringbridge.org/visit/billschultz1


PRODUCTION CREDITS

CHRIS SHEPHERD, PETRO STUDIOS

PRODUCER/EDITOR

 

CHRIS SHEPHERD, PETRO STUDIOS

PHOTOGRAPHY

 

DAVID PHAM

CREATIVE DIRECTOR