next … moms on the move
Jamie Durbin and Heather Dillon: The Gift of Life
by Jean Blackmer
“For unknown reasons your kidney function has taken a dive,” the doctor explained as Jamie sat in stunned silence on a cold morning in February of 2010. “We need to find you a donor as soon as possible.”
Jamie knew her kidneys were scarred and damaged for unknown reasons, but she thought it would be many more years before she would need a transplant. Instead, the doctor estimated she had until May, four short months, before her kidneys would fully fail. It became urgent to find a donor. Her life depended on it.
Her best chance for a match was a family member, but her sisters were not a match. And her husband wasn’t a match either. Jamie asked her church, her MOPS group and her small home group to pray. After hearing her plight, many people offered to be donors, but unfortunately none were a match. May arrived and Jamie’s kidney function had not yet failed, but it was rapidly declining.
One day in May, Jamie went on her weekly walk with Heather, a co-volunteer leader in their local MOPS group and good friend of 14 years. As they walked, Jamie shared her discouragement with not finding a donor, her fear of dialysis and the agony of being put on a wait list for a kidney.
“Tell me again the requirements for a donor. I’m a different blood type so that means I’m not a match, right?” Heather asked.
“If you’re type O, it’s possible. It doesn’t matter if you’re O negative or O positive,” Jamie explained.
“I am type O, so what do I need to do?” Heather asked.
“First pray,” urged Jamie. She also gave Heather the number to call if she decided to be tested.
A week later Jamie’s phone rang. It was Heather.
“How are you?” Jamie asked tentatively, thinking Heather might be calling about her donor test results.
“Well, I’m about to get worse and you’re about to get better,” Heather half-heartedly joked. “David and I prayed all week about me getting tested as a donor for you,” Heather explained. “And, each day I felt more confident that I might be a donor. So I got tested, and I’m a match!”
On August 19, 2010, Heather gave Jamie the precious gift of life — a kidney!
“By God’s grace my kidneys never fully failed, but I was only 1 percent away,” Jamie said.
Together, Jamie and Heather walked through the journey of organ donation. They prayed together, talked about their fears and expectations, went to the hospital together, visited each other after surgery, did painful walks through the hospital hallways and experienced their friendship growing deeper.
Throughout the process, they have both learned life-changing lessons and the value of living life together. Jamie, the giver, had to learn to receive. She had always been in the role of giving and had a hard time accepting help. “She’s the kind of friend who, if she borrows an egg, she’ll give you a dozen back,” Heather said.
“The idea of someone giving me an organ was really hard,” Jamie said. “How do you put that in a thank you note?” God taught Jamie to receive by giving her something she desperately needed and could never pay back.
Heather, on the other hand, was blessed to give. “God has taught me about generosity. I came from a family where scarcity was the rule, and honestly, I had a hard time giving generously. God allowed me togive something that can’t be replaced, to give without expectation of getting anything back.” People kept commenting about how they admired Heather’s courage, but Heather said she realized she’d received something irreplaceable — a true friend!
Jamie and Heather see each other every other Friday at MOPS. Jamie’s seen how her MOPS experience has come full circle: First attending as a young mom in 1991, then starting the Centennial Covenant Church MOPS group in 1997 and now receiving the gift of life from Heather who attends the group Jamie first started.
Jamie Durbin lives in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. She’s married to Troy, and they have four children, Timothy (20), Tommy (18), Johnathan (17) and Jenny (15). Jamie is a Mentor Mom at the Centennial Covenant Church MOPS group in Littleton.
Heather Dillon is married to David, and they have two boys, Caleb (5) and Micah (4). She’s currently in leadership at the Centennial Covenant Church MOPS group.
“Friendship is risky. We’re not perfect, but the beauty of this is we’ve been authentic with each other and the payoff is immeasurable,” Jamie said. “I will always be in awe of what Heather’s done. It feels like our friendship has been sealed somehow.”
Jean Blackmer is Publishing Manager for MOPS International. She’s the author of MomSense: A Common Sense Guide to Confident Mothering and Boy-sterous Living! Celebrating Your Loud and Rowdy Life with Sons. She and her husband, Zane, live in Boulder, Colorado with their three sons.