‘It is God’s hand holding me up’
“It happened very suddenly,” Fowler told The Christian Chronicle.
Her journey to this point started nearly two decades earlier. However, time and time again she had proved doctors wrong.
Fowler, a graduate of Oklahoma Christian University, has struggled with kidney disease since high school.
Claire Fowler takes a ride during her trip to Peru. (PHOTO PROVIDED)Her troubles started back in 1996. She and her father went on a mission trip to Peru. The were traveling with a group from the Richland Church of Christ, in Washington, to Paita, Peru, a city along the country’s northwestern coast.
During the trip the entire team became sick, most likely food poisoning. The sickness hit Fowler the hardest. She spiked a fever and ended up in a Peruvian hospital where she was diagnosed with salmonella. After two days in the hospital she was released and later returned home to Washington, but she wasn’t well.
“I believe without a shadow of a doubt it is God’s hand holding me up.”
After months of testing and continuing to battle fever and a cough, doctors discovered her kidneys were failing. • Read more about Claire’s trip to Peru on her blog www.TheLordIsMercifulAndGracious.blogspot.com. Told she would need a transplant by the time she was 25, Fowler went on with life, graduating college, becoming a teacher, getting married and having a baby. Those milestones each came with more doctor visits and more tests.
Claire Fowler with her family earlier this year. (PHOTO PROVIDED) Yet, somehow she was surpassing all expectations. She made it past 25 without needing a kidney; in fact, she made it past 35. Pregnancy was tough. Her daughter was born premature and Fowler, herself, saw a steep decline in her own health. Yet, to her doctor’s disbelief, she still was not at the point of needing a transplant.
Then something changed. In February 2015, her doctors told her she needed to find a donor as soon as possible. Just three months earlier doctors said it would be a couple of years before she reached that point.
Fowler doesn’t know what changed, but by the time she went back to the doctor her kidney function had dropped dramatically, functioning at just 10-percent. She was now eligible to be put on the donor list and told to start searching for a live donor.
“I reached out to family and friends and I had a number of people respond, but for one reason or another they’ve all been found to not be a match,” she said.
Still, Fowler trusts God has a plan.
“I feel like the fact that I’m still able to work and that I’ve been functioning with such little kidney function I believe without a shadow of a doubt it is God’s hand holding me up,” Fowler said.
While she feels a sense peace regarding her search for a kidney, Fowler said she does sometimes struggle with the thought of what will happen if she doesn’t find a donor.
“The only part I struggle with is my daughter. She’s too young. I don’t want to leave her yet,” she said.
“I’m hoping for that magical miracle moment when someone steps forward and wants to donate a kidney and they’re a perfect match. I have a faith that says it’s possible.”
“I’m just praying a lot and I know whatever the outcome is God will see us through it,” said Claire’s father, Rick Date.
It’s hard for Date sometimes, too. He was on that trip to Peru, and he also got sick, but no one knows why Fowler’s illness took such a life-changing turn.
Both say they wouldn’t change the past, that they would go to Peru again if they had the chance.
For now, their focus isn’t the past but the future — finding the right donor.
“We’re just waiting,” Fowler said.
They’re hoping someone they haven’t yet met will step forward and be a match.
“I believe there are godly moments when you pass by and you feel God nudging you to help,” Date said. “I’m hoping for that magical miracle moment when someone steps forward and wants to donate a kidney and they’re a perfect match. I have a faith that says it’s possible.”
It’s been hard finding out one by one that those who care so deeply about her aren’t the match she needs. However, Fowler’s trusting God and trying to be patient.
Claire Fowler“I feel like God has a plan for me and it’s going to be ok whatever happens and however it happens,” Fowler said.
Claire Fowler is working with the transplant program at the University of Missouri. A potential donor must be in good health and have O+ blood type. An O or A blood type could also potentially be a match. If you believe you could help you can contact Claire Fowler’s Live Donor Coordinator Cathy Ashbaugh at 573-882-9974.