High Springs pastor Derek Lambert, family feel blessed after his kidney donation
Aug 16, 2014
By CAROLYN NICHOLS
Florida Baptist Witness

TESTIMONIES Pastor Derek Lambert wore his souvenir shirt during his first time back to First Baptist Church in High Springs on June 1. He and his wife, Nichole, spoke about their journey through the process of organ donation. Courtesy photo
HIGH SPRINGS (FBW)—Only two weeks after his surgery to donate a kidney on May 19, Pastor Derek Lambert and his wife, Nichole, gave their testimonies in the evening service of his church, First Baptist Church in High Springs. On June 1, the couple sat on the stage as they talked about their journey of organ donation and his recovery after surgery.

The congregation was aware of the four-year-old commitment its pastor made to donate a kidney in honor of a deacon in the Mississippi church he served before moving to High Springs. Several members had questions for their pastor about the process, and he was pleased to retell his story.
 
Lambert’s and others’ commitments of donations created one of the longest kidney donor chains in history at University of Alabama Hospital in Birmingham. At least 22 surgeries to donate and receive kidneys have been performed since May. The record-setting kidney donor chain was featured in a segment of ABC’s “Nightline” that aired July 3.
 
Lambert was highlighted in the 10-minute segment, along with Allison, the 37-year-old mother of twins who received his kidney. Her cousin, who offered a kidney in Allison’s honor, was the donor for an 18-year-old high school student. The donors and recipients met 24 hours after a day of surgeries.  
 
Upon his arrival in Birmingham for his donation surgery, Lambert noticed a vehicle in the parking lot with a painted back window: “UAB-bound—PKD [polycystic kidney disease] gone forever!” Nichole Lambert took a photo of her husband with the window—just in case it belonged to the recipient of his kidney. It did indeed belong to Allison, and a second photo was taken six days after their surgeries while the families were together to celebrate her twins’ birthday.
 
“They hugged me and said thank you. It was a humbling experience. Our family feels like we have a new family,” Lambert said.
Lambert moved from UAB to a motel room three days after surgery and laid aside pain medications four days after surgery since “I don’t do well with strong pain medicine,” he said. Without any internal pain, extra-strength Tylenol eased the pain of his incision, he said.
 
The Lamberts returned to High Springs May 26, and on June 2 he returned to the church office.
 
“My plan was to spend half days at the office for the first week, but I stayed the whole days. I did go home for a nap on Wednesday that first week,” he said.
 
After an eight-week respite from lifting and running, he is “now back to taking out the trash and running in the evenings,” he said. A recent physical showed his creatinine level to be slightly elevated—at 1.5 instead of a normal 0.6-1.3, a condition to be expected after half of his kidney capacity was removed. The level of the chemical waste product in his blood will lessen as his remaining kidney grows, he said.
 
Ironically, his recipient Allison’s level, 1.1, is lower than that of her donor.
 
Allison, her husband and 11-year-old twins, and the Lambert family, including Alana, 13, and Isabella, 11, are maintaining a close relationship. Their children text one another, and the parents talk often between homes in High Springs and South Louisiana. Allison and her family do not attend church, but she made a profession of faith as a child in a Baptist church, Lambert said.
 
Allison’s native kidneys were removed July 21 since her doctors are confidant in the ability of her new kidney. Lambert’s kidney saved her from a life of daily dialysis. Her father and grandfather died in their 30s as victims of polycystic kidney disease.
 
The Lamberts visited and prayed with Allison before and after her second surgery, and they waited with her family during the procedure. Although she is still recovering from the second surgery, the prospects of a normal life with her family are bright.
 
“This has changed her life, and the extent of that change remains to be seen,” Lambert said.
 
Lambert’s friend, Michael Little, who received a new kidney because of Lambert’s kidney donation, is also recovering well from surgery. His new kidney is functioning well, and his doctor has lengthened the time between checkups to two months, Lambert said. 
 
Now sporting a “mellow-looking” scar, Lambert has been approached by several people who are interested in following his example of organ donation. Others’ interest in the process is an answer to prayer along with his strong recovery, he said.
 
“That has been my prayer all along. As Christians and as a church, if we can help, shouldn’t we?” he asked. “While we were still in the hospital, Nichole and I asked ourselves, ‘How in the world did the tables get turned?’ We wanted to bless a stranger, and we gained the greater blessing. It’s true that God’s shovel is bigger than our spoons.”
CELEBRATION The Lambert family celebrated Allison’s twins’ birthday six days after she received one of Pastor Derek Lambert’s kidneys. Lambert is surrounded by Nichole Lambert (left), Allison’s twins, Allison, Alana Lambert (right) and Isabella Lambert (kneeling). Courtesy photo

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