The plan was for my mom to move out to Minnesota with Evan, while my dad would stay home with my siblings and I. We planned on alternating when we came out to visit. We wanted to maintain as much normalcy as possible for the kids. However, after I visited that first time, I knew that I would not be able to leave Evan's side. For the third time, I had no idea how greatly this decision would affect the rest of my life.
For five months my mom and I fought for Evan's life in that little hospital room. We knew about 20 days after his transplant that he had fully engrafted the new cord blood. He had gotten worse due to his disease and the chemotherapy required before the transplant, but it seemed as if we had stopped the progression of the disease.
While Evan was in the hospital, we were able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House in Minneapolis. This is a great place where families can stay together. It provides meals and has fun activities for the kids. I went back to the RMH almost every night while Evan was in the hospital to make dinner for my mom and I -- a little reprieve from the hospital food.
While I would be doing this, the other families would always walk by on their way to or from the hospital, and we would exchange hellos. At this time, I frequently saw a little boy walking around the kitchen and into the various playrooms. I knew nothing about this boy other than that he had a nose tube and that he probably needed my prayers. This boy's name was Dominik Lawson. At the time, I had no idea the significance of our meeting or how incredible it was that Evan brought our families together.
Although Evan's transplant was successful, in August he contracted the adenovirus. As soon as we got confirmation of this, I knew that I would not be returning to school for my junior year in the fall. This is a common virus, usually presenting as a cold, which is found rampant in preschools and similar environments. However, due to Evan's suppressed immune system, he was unable to fight this virus.
We were told how damaging it could be on a patient post-transplant. It ravaged his body and ultimately took his life. We fought against it for more than two months, but made little progress. We cherished these last days with Evan. My dad and the two kids at home were able to make several trips out to love on and care for Evan. The day before his passing we were all together and able to involve the kids in memory- making activities. We took beautiful and touching family pictures on the day that he died, and his passing was extremely peaceful.
We headed home without Evan and didn't know how we were going to go on in our lives without him. We had stayed in contact with several families we had met while in Minnesota, including Dominik Lawson's family. I was watching the "ABC World News" story featured in November that described the Lawsons' desperate search to find a kidney donor for Dominik. Watching the show, I felt compelled to contact Kelly, Dom's mother, and inform her of my desire to help. At the time, she told me to take time for myself, and my family, because of what we were going through, but that she was grateful for my willingness to help.