As we come upon the One Year milestone of my nephew Marc’s miraculous heart transplant, I wanted to share the followup stories of these remarkable people related to our dairy community. Tough journeys can still be punctuated with happy stretches and gratitude. I offer my deep thanks to Marc, Kim/George, and Jeremy for their perseverance, faith and inspiration. I’m sure their updates will resonate with many others in our broad dairy community – for now, their days are diamonds. Please consider registering as an organ donor if you haven’t already – transplant.bc.ca.
Back to Health – Everything Else is a Bonus
But I also want to make mention of our dairy friends from Milky Wave Dairy in Ontario. It was last June/July that Henk and Bettina Schuurmans embarked on their epic cross-Canada tractor tour to bring positive attention to the Canadian Dairy industry. We all know what happened. We must keep that family in our prayers, as healing will be a long road.
George and Kim love walking, hiking and biking once again. George and Kim Keulen are truly grateful for where they find themselves heading into Summer 2019. It was June 2018 that Kim was diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer, requiring six-months of chemotherapy followed by an intensive, eight-hour surgery in February to remove the remaining cancer from her abdomen. They are thrilled to report that Kim is fully recovered, back to work full-time and going for walks, and planning some summer camping trips! They are also grateful that throughout this whole stressful ordeal, George’s health has remained stable, with his lung function even improving slightly from this time last year. Both are grateful to their doctors who showed much care and compassion, their family for their unconditional support, and their workplaces (Elim Village and Bridge Community Church) for giving them much needed time off for recovery following Kim’s surgery. Her next scan at the end of the summer will indicate if further treatment is required, while George continues to visit the Transplant Clinic every four months for routine checkups. Giving thanks!
Remarkable Renal Restoration
Jeremy loves his favourite cow Della and little sis Lillian. Little Jeremy Wikkerink was first introduced in the fall of 2017 when he had barely turned three-years old and received a kidney from his father Jason. He continues to share his unrestrained smile and enthusiasm for cows and chickens anytime he greets visitors at the farm. Mother Michelle provides this update: “Jeremy is doing really well. He is now 20 months post-transplant and all the doctors are happy with how things are going. He has high energy, is growing well and is now attending preschool. If you ask Jeremy what he would like to do – 99% of the time he will reply with ‘Go to work!’ either with his Aunt Cindy or Uncle William. You can’t keep him out of the barn – he loves his cows!”No need to genotype him…he’s clearly a Wikkerink!
342 Days Since Marc’s Second Chance
Marc and Jessica Bains can enjoy travel once again. “Not a day goes by where I don’t think about June 6, 2018. It is the day I was gifted with my new heart. The day that changed my life.
I remember the team telling me that the recovery would not be easy, and it would not be smooth. Okay, maybe they say that to everyone. No expectations. However, me being me, I was counting down the days until I could travel, get back on the squash court and live the life I wanted to live. What is life without a little ambition?
For the first six months, my heart rarely agreed with my ambition. Not only did I face multiple episodes of rejection – my body was fighting this foreign object – but I also dealt with a recurrence of my cancer. Never one to give up, I continued to fight through.
December was the turning point. I was cancer-free and my heart was being accepted by my body. I felt a new energy and new zest for life that told me it was time to push forward. But I had to remember to listen to my body, or my amazing wife, whoever told me to slow down first!
I’ve been fortunate enough to continue what I love doing. I traveled to Rome to expand our charitable reach globally (Heartlife Foundation), spent time in Malta enjoying the beach and even started to jog. As I come up to June 6, 2019, I will continue to push forward, testing my limits, living my second-chance life. I remain grateful for my donor, donor family and the amazing gift I received.”