Mother and child are back home in Chattanooga after recovering from the June 22 kidney transplant surgery and are doing fine, according to Daves.
Shafer, who turned 2 Oct. 15, was born with Denys-Drash Syndrome, a rare medical condition caused by a genetic mutation that includes chronic kidney disease leading to failure by age 3. There have been only 200 diagnosed cases in the world.
Almost as rare as the condition itself is a mother being an approved match as the living donor for her child. When her blood work came back as a perfect match, the family was ecstatic, according to Daves in her interview featured in the May 25 Cleveland Daily Banner.
Daves said, “Doctors called it a medical marvel and a medical mystery. I call it a medical miracle!”
Still, there was a chance of failure and even the loss of life going into this surgery, which the family could not ignore.
“The greatest risk was that the kidney could clot off and not take to Shafer. If this happens, nothing can be done and we both lose the kidney with an irreversible failure,” Daves said.
“There was about a 1 in 3,000 chance of death and multiple other concerns, so it was a very serious surgery. It is just unbelievable that you can actually put an adult kidney, which is 2 1/2 times the size of a child’s, into a toddler — simply amazing.”
With her husband, Kevin, their four children, her parents, Don and Wilby Ledford of Benton, her brother John and his family and a host of other family members and friends accompanying them, some 30 people waited and prayed during the six-hour surgery.
“I was in the hospital seven days and Shafer stayed a few days longer. We were both on the same floor at Monroe Carrell Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University,” Daves said.
Now that the ordeal is behind them, the self-sacrificing mom said, “It is wonderful to live without dialysis! What a blessing to have that taken out of our lives. While he is still on a continuous tube feed every night for 10 hours, there is not as much work and worry associated with that. We thank God for every milestone and coming off dialysis was a big one.”
Even life’s perspective can change, according to Daves, who admits, Life is definitely much sweeter now.”
“I wake up every morning with a renewed perspective for all the Lord has so generously given us,” she said. “Stuff just doesn’t matter anymore. My whole focus is on people and relationships.
“We all need to realize that life is about matters of the heart — loving, giving, laughing, serving, caring — one trip to Vanderbilt Children’s hospital for a few hours is life-changing. There is nothing to stir a heart like the suffering of children. It will soften even the hardest heart.”
The family is adjusting to what Daves calls “the new normal” where they understand Shafer has a lifetime of medical challenges ahead.
“Clinic visits to Vandy every few weeks and periodic hospitalizations will always be a part of our lives,” she said.
The phenomenal circumstances surrounding a mother’s giving life to her infant child twice in less than two years, not only created a tremendous buzz throughout the medical profession, but turned the amazing mother and infant son into media sensations.
“Shafer made an appearance in a country music video with Rodney Adkins — ‘Take A Back Road’ — his biggest music video yet,” Daves said. “We filmed eight hours as paid talent. My 7-year-old makes an appearance in it too! We were also gifted a dream vacation to Disney World from Oct. 2-10 by two wonderful people in Nashville who wished to remain anonymous.”
When asked to describe her feelings about giving life to her child twice in such a special way, Daves said, “It is all so surreal. I feel like an actress playing a role in a movie. There are no words to describe my heartfelt thanks to my Heavenly Father for allowing me this opportunity.
“I want to spend the rest of my life sharing with others the love and goodness of Christ. I thought my faith was strong before this, but I now realize how much deeper, wider and broader my faith can be. I just want to be found faithful in the eyes of the Lord. I do feel a strong call to share our story due to the hope and healing it has brought to so many thus far.”
Daves said her family is thankful for all the prayers on their behalf and the support they have received from people in Hamilton, Bradley, Polk and Davidson counties, and across the country.
“I’m reminded of a quote from Bethany Hamilton in the recent movie, “Soul Surfer” which states, ‘I’ve had the chance to embrace more people with one arm that I ever could with two.’ I can honestly say that I’ve had the chance to positively impact more people with one kidney that I ever could with two,” Daves said.
“Even though I have been on the speaking circuit for 16 years, people are more interested now than ever in having me come to their church, conference, retreat or business to share so I can intertwine my personal journey into my message. So, I am really excited about the new opportunities that are emerging.”
To learn more and watch a video about Shafer Daves and his family, visit www.cotaforShaferd.com.