NICOLETTE + HILARY'S KIDNEY JOURNEY
I have been dying to share something really, really big that happened. Guys, there is so much good in this world. And we need to hear it and see it and be a part of it and shout it from the rooftops. It is not every day one of your friends gives another one of your friends (who was a stranger to them) their kidney.
Let me tell you the story, it’s a little long, but hang tight, because it’s such a good one.
A lot of people don’t know this, but I was born in Texas, and moved here when I was 10. Many of my friends now are the ones who I went to elementary school with. One of my very first friends wasAlison Maguire. Her house was THE place to be. She had the coolest room ever, and her mom had lots of property, so there was always somewhere to explore and hang out. Her mama, Nicolette Covato, was one of the most fun moms. She’d sit and talk with us, give us advice, and was such a blessing to have. She felt like a second mom to all of us.
About a year ago or so ago Ali told us that her mama was having some health issues and would eventually need a kidney transplant. She got on the list, they’d find a donor, but something would always fall through. She stayed on the list, but continued to get sicker and sicker.
Then, a few months later, Ali told us that Nicolette has also just been diagnosed with breast cancer. Devastating. She needed surgery, then a double mastectomy, and reconstruction. All while still being in pain and sick from needing a kidney. And, she still cares for her 92 year old aunt, like on the daily. She lives with her and needs consistent care. She had always been the caretaker. She’s the most selfless person in that regard. Nurse by profession-nurturer at heart. She told Ali after she was diagnosed with breast cancer that her mission was to get better so she could continue to care for others. ❤️
Ali created a page with details and all the info someone would need to become a donor. She asked everyone she could to share it, tell people about it, whatever. The donor list that Nicolette was on was a slow moving process, so they were being proactive in finding a donor through social media and word of mouth.
Like all my girlfriends, I posted about Nicolette and the need for a donor on my Facebook page, and in the days after got a few messages from friends on our Young Living team that they wanted to begin the first step and take the initial blood draw to see if they could donate. (you know who you are <3)
MIND BLOWN. I mean, I KNEW these were amazing people. I see them every day, working hard for their families, their friends, being moms and sisters and daughters and working to build a life and dream for themselves by giving selflessly to others their knowledge and time. All while sometimes working other full-time jobs, and cooking dinner, while wiping one child’s tears over a scraped knee while changing another one’s diaper, all while building empires at their kitchen tables with tired eyes and reheated coffee. I SEE THEM. But this blew me away.
Turns out, the process to become a donor is NOT easy. I mean, I guess I could have figured that out, but I never really thought hard on it. I figured you took a blood test, maybe had a few more tests, and BOOM. You’re in. No, that is not the way. It is so much more complicated than that.
One of my friends, Hilary Schultz, passed the first test. She messaged me to tell me, because she really wasn’t telling anyone about it. Her husband knew, their parents knew and that was it. They were supportive, but also nervous (understandably) about it as well. She needed someone to talk about it with that wasn’t family.
After the first test determines the donors blood type, you go for another blood test to determine the tissue typing of donor and recipient match. Then wait for the results. Next up - another blood test called crossmatch testing to determine if the recipients body would attack the new kidney. Then wait for the results. (Online survey, Phone interview, Blood-typing, tissue typing, crossmatch testing) Each time she’d have a test, she’d keep me updated and message me immediately once she found out that she passed. Every conversation we had started with her asking “how is Nicolette? how is she doing?”
We prayed and prayed together that each time, it would be a pass. I wasn’t telling Ali or Nicolette any of this, because I obviously had no idea how it would play out, and I didn’t want to breathe a word of it.
The second to last (of 6) test in the process that she took, she didn’t pass. This was a GFR test. The results showed that her kidney function was too low to donate. Hilary didn’t take no for an answer. She asked to take it again, or if there was another way. The hospital representative said that there was a more invasive but much more accurate test, but that they needed to get special approval for it by the hospital, and that if they okay’ed it, she’d need to go to Baltimore for it. She said “Do it.”
A few days later, the representative called her back - they approved the test. She and her hubs drove to Baltimore, got the test done, and a few days later she messaged me with the news. She passed with flying colors. ❤
Then there was Donor Day. It took a second trip to Baltimore, where she had multiple tests all day long. Speaking with a team of doctors, financial information, physical evaluation, interview with the social worker, medical history, and a presentation of what will occur during the surgery. The whole thing. Long day, and I am sure overwhelming for her. (She would never say that though. Ever. Every time I spoke to her it was “I am praying I pass. Let’s get Nicolette a kidney.) They’d have the results in a week.
A few days into our trip to Banff in April, I got a message from Hilary “hey can I call you?”
IMMEDIATELY I’m like YES. *frantically finds a place with good service to talk*
SHE IS A MATCH. Like a real, it’s happening, it’s a GO, kind of match. We freaked out. I still couldn’t tell Ali and her mama though. So I asked Hilary a bunch of questions and then told her to message me when she knew when it was happening or had more details. I knew that our team would help both Nicolette and Hilary with the day to day things they’d need help with after their surgeries so I wanted to start planning.
The next day, Ali called me and told me that they had just found a match for her mama. Hilary. BEST DAY EVER.
THEIR SURGERY WAS LAST MONTH!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️
Hilary is doing well, tired still, but well. It is a major surgery, and she has two littles that she is chasing after, so she is still not 100%. She says how good God is and only has positive and uplifting things to say every time I talk to her.
Nicolette is on the track to recovery, but had a much more difficult time than anticipated. Although the surgery was initially successful, she was hit with two highly traumatic, major, and life-threatening complications during her hospital stay that turned her planned 3-5 day visit into a three-week hospitalization with many additional tests and procedures that have brought the out-of-pocket cost to nearly $30,000. To make matters worse, she is unable to return to work as planned due to the severity of her injuries (multiple broken ribs from CPR, dizziness, chronic pain).
She has a long road of recovery ahead, and we are doing everything we can to support her healing so that she can get back to her outgoing, funny, loving, selfless, and strong self as fast as possible.
We are able to be part of an amazing community who stepped up to feed them meals, get their homes cleaned, and sent donations and flowers immediately after their surgeries (THANK YOU THANK YOU), but for those who would like to contribute to helping Nicolette with her unplanned $30,000 in medical bills from her complications, you can click here:
Even if you are unable to donate at this time, I’d ask that you share this story (you can copy and paste this link: http://www.gofundme.com/nicolettecovato) or “share” this post with your friends and community, through Facebook or email. It really does help tremendously - that is how Hilary and Nicolette found each other after all ❤️
Friends, it is so greatly appreciated. In what freaking world is this real life. My brain can still not wrap around the way that this is truly fate. These two good, good, GOOD people are now in each other’s lives. This is how we need to be, this is how we need to see people and see the world. There are good, selfless people in it. BE ONE OF THEM. Go out of your way for another person. Do something nice for a stranger. Do something for someone with no intention of getting a thing back in return. This world needs good people doing good things.