I will try to paint a picture for you of our trip to Pittsburgh, so that you can know the many ways the Lord has heard our prayers. First, Qavah was healthy and strong. She breezed through every test required of her and the nurses, technicians, and doctors were all very good with her. The tests revealed the strengths and weaknesses in Qavah's body and gave the transplant team a good idea of how her body works.
Qavah asked me before each test if anything was going to hurt. She seemed satisfied with my answers and I could tell she was trusting my judgement. The only painful test was a blood draw on Friday and when the large wooden treasure box was wheeled into the room, the pain was soon forgotten. From the treasure chest, Qavah chose the movie Flicka then watched it on the way home to Virginia. She seemed very pleased with her selection.
The Ronald McDonald house was the most amazing feature of the trip. It connects to the hospital through a glass enclosed walkway. We did not have to go outdoors to get to appointments and with the weather being in the single digits in Pittsburgh, that was a blessing. When we arrived the first day, we were fed in the family dining room by a group of people wearing a badge with the name, "Lydia's love project." We later discovered that Lydia's friends and family still come to serve the families staying at the "house" once every two months. Lydia, a little girl of six or seven, did not survive her kidney cancer, but her parents and family survive the loss by continuing to reach out to others, and served up comforting food in her memory. We were so touched by their kindness.
Our room at the house was a one bedroom apartment, complete with kitchen, living room, and bathroom. There are ten floors and the facility houses sixty families. The lower floors are dedicated to teaching classrooms and meeting rooms. The top floor, called the "penthouse", is a large play area, laundry room, kitchen, and dining room, where families can meet and mingle. One evening, Qavah was told to check the far corner of the dining room where she would find gifts from the community. She chose some books, and a few other things that were geared toward keeping kids busy while waiting for doctor appointments. We were told that the kitchen was stocked daily by area restaurants, and families could eat in the main dining room, or we could take trays to our rooms if we needed a quiet family time. For some of the organ transplant families, this is a home away from home and they are there for a year or more.
Throughout our time at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh we observed a lot of families working together. There was a particular patience with the process as families awaited their turn to see the doctors. Waiting areas were amazingly organized, and mommies and daddies played with their children and nurtured them. We didn't see anger, resentment, or frustration, over the loss of health, or dreams, but rather witnessed a special grace that I believe comes from God Himself. He does draw near to the broken-hearted, and the broken. Qavah will be going back in April for some preliminary tests, and her bone marrow transplant is set to begin the first week of May. We now know our way through the hospital and where we will stay during the procedure. For the "unknowns" we have a place to go as well. To the Throne room, where Jesus intercedes for those who believe in Him, and come to Him for help.