Wife yearns to give husband her kidney
JOPLIN – Pastor Al Evans has never had a “simple” life.
It all started in the fifth grade with a kidney that would affect him the rest of his life. The infection was so bad that starting in the eighth grade he had to be home schooled all the way through high school. After high school, he was accepted to Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar.
In his first semester, his kidneys began to act up again. When he was treated, the doctors told him that he had been living on only one functioning kidney. Baffled, the physicians had no clue what kept causing infections in Evans’ kidneys. That is when they discovered that Evans had a rare infection called Bright’s disease. This disease was named after Dr. Richard Bright, who described the condition in the early 19th century. It has various symptoms that require dialysis.
It was at Southwest Baptist University where he met his wife, Deborah Evans. Four children and grandchildren later, their marriage remains stronger than ever, and is strengthened every day through the many adversities they’ve undergone due to Al’s kidney problems.
“I have learned to share my deepest thoughts with my wife,” Evans said. “We talk about how we feel, and we re-discuss life decisions with each other.”
Although he suffers from severe kidney problems and has endured many treatments—some 13-14 surgeries since the first part of the 1980s, with four heart stints and dialysis—his faith in the Lord Jesus remains strong and secure.
“There’s always risk involved when you kill your immune system because you’re susceptible to all types of infection,” Evans said. Trusting that God has a plan through it all, he clings to a very familiar verse for many, Romans 8:28, which reads, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.” Evans believes this verse, and knowing that he has been called, he lives in peace as the pastor of Friendship Baptist Church. “The church has been very supportive throughout my illness and they give me purpose,” Evans said. “Friendship Baptist has prayed and not wavered.”
Evans has received one transplant already, but he had to wait until someone passed away. Recently he has become a good candidate to receive another transplant, but this time he won’t have to wait until someone dies to receive a new kidney. This time he will get a Christmas present from his wife—a kidney.
There are many procedures a person must go through to be an organ donor, and Deborah Evans has gone through all of them. Such procedures include a total physical, bone density, mammogram, cat-scan and the drawing of blood.
“I can’t take Aleve or Ibuprofen because it causes low kidney function (and I) have to go through 24-hour urine and blood work and meet with the transplant nurse on a regular basis,” Deborah Evans said. “Patience is the key lesson I’ve had to learn because with every doctor the procedure has ended up taking more time than expected, but although it seems like a long time, when God makes it right it’ll go like clockwork.”
The couple each has separate medical teams to make sure each of them stay healthy for the transplant. Both teams are based in St. Louis with the hospital being in Kansas City. Al Evans said Galatians 2:19-20 keeps him focused on being crucified with Christ; he also knows he is not his own as he was bought with a price.
“I’m his child,” he said. “He takes care of the birds of the air; He will surely take care of me.”
The last medical bill Evans received was over $50,000. Insurance covered most of that, but there were extra costs.
“Deborah and I trust that they will get taken care of,” Evans said.
The Lord has been in the whole process so far. For example, Deborah Evans, who works in a separate hospital, was going to lose her job due to relocation, but prayer has kept her job there for one more year, giving her time to follow through with the procedure.
“Dialysis takes a chunk out of my ministry time,” Evans said, “but I am now able to minister to those around me in the hospitals or treatment centers.” Philippians 4:6-7 is another key passage that gives Evans strength as he endures this trial. “You learn to appreciate things much more,” he said.
God has shown His grace to Evans in that he’s been blessed with many great Christian doctors, including his cardiologist, his neuro-ophthalmologist, and his primary physician.
“Jesus is our strength,” Deborah Evans said, “and we know there’s a purpose for everything.”