“In His Own Words: CLAY’S STORY A s a lifelong type 1 diabetic, I knew what was coming. I had seen my mother die from renal failure when she was forty-eight, and I was now forty-nine. For years my kidneys had slowly been losing function and now were down to 40 percent. I just wanted to see my only child graduate from high school. But God had other plans. Two days before my son’s
graduation, I had a heart attack—and I never saw it coming! I was in great shape: I worked out five or six days a week, and I had a slim build and low cholesterol. The doctors told me, however, that years of diabetes had caused plaque to build up in my arteries. The next thing I knew, it was bypass surgery time. All the things you think are so important—job, house, graduation parties, whatever—fade into the background when you think about your chest being cracked open! My wife and I cried as we planned for the worst and prayed for the best. I survived and began the recovery process. The dye used in the process of mapping my arteries, however, caused my kidney function to drop to 20 percent. After some days it became clear that my kidney function would keep deteriorating: I needed a kidney
transplant. While my wife was in the clinic waiting to be tested as a possible donor—and praying—Paul, the father of my son’s friend, walked up to her. He put his hand on her shoulder and said he was there to be tested too. I had met Paul only a few times before. It turned out that he was a member of Journey Fellowship, a church we had visited a few times (we’re now members!). And by God’s grace he was an excellent match to be a kidney donor. As weeks went by, my body was getting weaker, but my spirit stronger, as I saw the hand of the Lord on my life as he worked through countless people and in response to many prayers. I had ten medical procedures, including four surgeries in six months, and then dialysis. It culminated on December 15, 2010
with Paul and me lying in the hospital next to each other waiting for transplant surgery. We both made it through, and today our families are, needless to say, dearest friends. The year 2010 was one of great physical pain and intense emotional distress, and while it may sound odd, I would not trade it now for anything. God drew me closer to him through all of the struggles, closer than I had been in any period of my life. Even though I had grown up in church and had been growing in my faith, the perspective I now have on life is priceless. I am so thankful for many little things every day, and I see God’s beauty, love, and purpose everywhere.