“When I am here, I always think about the movie, The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy says, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home,” says Leslie, a guest of Howie’s House “but I think Dorothy is wrong, there is a place like home, and it’s called Gift of Life Howie’s House.”
Leslie Moore, a Gift of Life Howie’s House guest and wife of a recent kidney transplant, Curtis, is from Binghamton, NY. Leslie and Curtis’ transplant journey began in 1990 when Curtis was diagnosed with kidney disease. As Curtis’ disease progressed he was forced to go on dialysis and in 2009 Curtis was diagnosed with end-stage kidney disease; transplantation then became a necessity. Curtis and Leslie researched and learned everything they could about kidney transplantation. Patients and friends at Curtis’ dialysis center recommended Einstein Medical Center to the couple, and after much consideration, Curtis and Leslie decided to move forward with transplantation. Curtis was placed on the waiting list in Philadelphia. However, the couple found the thought of traveling such a far distance away from Binghamton, NY to Philadelphia frightening. When the couple coincidentally met a family at a benefit in their hometown their fears began to alleviate. Leslie and Curtis met Clarence and Jeanne Clink; the Clink family stayed at the Howie’s House when Jeanne received a double-lung and heart transplant. The Clinks shared their journey with Leslie and Curtis, which included the Howie’s House’s warmth and care during their time of need.
As Curtis and Leslie prepared for their transplant journey they did not want to consider living donation, but both of their children, Joy 39 and Curtis Jr. 44, stepped forward insisting on becoming living donors. Curtis shared his feelings about his children’s willingness to donate their father: “I never wanted to get a transplant and I especially never wanted my children to be the donor.” They went through with the testing to see who was a match for their father. Additionally Church members tested also, but no one from Leslie and Curtis’ congregation was a match. Curtis Jr.’s test results came back as a match and he agreed to donate; however, he could not go through with surgery due to a career change. Joy was a match for her father, and she wanted to donate to him – in fact, she insisted on going through with the idea. “Let’s get her done” Joy said. The transplant surgery took place on March 22, 2013. It was successful for both Curtis and his daughter Joy.
While he was in the hospital Curtis found comfort, ease, and assurance through the Howie’s House. Curtis knew he could rest easy knowing his wife and their visitors were safe and cared for by the Howie’s House – it took a tremendous weight off of Curtis’ shoulders helping his recovery from the surgery better. Leslie, like Curtis, found peace at the Howie’s House: “emotionally it put my mind to rest, it means the difference between being with my family and not. I was able to care for Joy in the room. I have no car and the shuttle service is at the Howie’s House is a true blessing.”
Although no one at their hometown church, Crossroads of Life, could be a living donor for Curtis, the church decided to help Curtis and Leslie in another way. The church generously offered to pay for their stay at the Howie’s House. Joy’s expenses were also supported in part by a grant for living donors from the NLDAC.
After the surgery Joy went home a few days later, but Leslie and Curtis stayed at the Howie’s House for several weeks post-surgery. Leslie and Curtis felt spoiled at the Howie’s House; they took pleasure in the home-cooked meals, the beautiful gardens, and the caring volunteers. Leslie and Curtis enjoyed the Howie’s House’s complimentary amenities, such as free internet, which helped the couple keep in touch with their children, grandchild, extended family members, and friends. Through Skype Leslie and Curtis felt less isolated and alone so far away from their hometown. They also formed lasting friendships with other transplant families staying at the Howie’s House; through these friendships, Leslie and Curtis realized they were not alone on this journey – many others are going through the same things Leslie and Curtis experienced.
Even though Curtis and Leslie Moore have returned home to New York they keep the Howie’s House and its mission in their minds. The couple plans to visit the Howie’s House, and want to help support the House and its mission in every way they can. Curtis is now an advocate for living donation and has no regrets about letting his daughter give him a second chance at life.