Celebrating With Team Michael at the Game Ball Relay

Posted April 6, 2018 in News Category
mt14135-webresKidney recipient Michael was carried by his living donor, Robyn, to finish Team Michael's leg of the Great Ball Relay.

With about one city block left in Team Michael’s leg of the 6th annual Homers for Health Game Ball Relay - GBR18, Michael’s father, Shawn Loness, called out, “Robyn, come up front!” Robyn Rosenberger ran up from the middle of the pack.

Robyn has walked closely with the family and Team Michael for the last several months. On Thursday, she talked with Michael at the Game Ball Relay, eliciting smiles and laughs from the boy whose life she saved in January. This day – participating in this St. Louis tradition — was made possible for Michael because he received a lifesaving kidney transplant from Robyn.

Michael, who turns two years old later this month, had a big smile and reached for Robyn as she caught up with him and Shawn. She carried Michael and the game ball to the next leg of #GBR18. The symbolism is great. It only made sense for this duo, who are forever connected by the kidney donation that saved Michael’s life, to complete the fourth leg of this relay. Robyn was there for and with Michael, just as she was in January.

“This is an awesome chance to celebrate,” said Robyn, who came with her husband and three children. “My family hasn’t met Michael, but they know all about him. Michael needs to be in very clean environments, so the families have never spent time together. This is really the first thing we’ve been able to do just for fun.”

mt14172webresRobyn, right, with Michael, Shawn and Sarah Loness.

The relay is a partnership between SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital and the St. Louis Cardinals in which patients from the hospital run a relay with the Opening Day game ball from SSM Health Cardinal Glennon to Busch Stadium. Mid-America Transplant proudly sponsored Team Michael.

“I’m really honored we were asked to be part of this,” said Sarah, Michael’s mother. “The last two years have been interesting, so it’s nice to celebrate just how far he’s come.”

Robyn met Michael and his family when she delivered a TinySuperheroes cape to Michael. TinySuperheroes is a company founded by Robyn. It is dedicated to creating child-sized capes for children as they overcome an illness or disability.

When Robyn delivered the cape, Sarah shared his journey: the 11 surgeries, the dialysis routine, the waiting, and the hopes for a donor. Robyn was inspired. She felt called to be tested as a possible match for Michael.

Meanwhile, Michael and his family continued to wait. Their life was planned around dialysis treatments. He went to Cardinal Glennon three times per week for treatments. He had a feeding tube. He was monitored by the Complex Medical Care Team at Cardinal Glennon because he was under the care of so many specialists. And they waited. They hoped for a living donor. They prayed for a living donor.

Those hopes and prayers were answered. Two months after Robyn began the testing to be Michael’s donor, she was approved. She told Michael and his family over video chat. (Click the play button below and move to the 2:23 mark to see the moment Robyn tells Michael and Sarah that she’s a match for Michael and will donate her kidney to him.) 

Michael returned home just seven days after the transplant. Sarah says he has recovered beautifully, and his progress will be monitored through regular visits to the hospital. While the transplant is not a cure for kidney disease, it does allow Michael to experience life as a child should.

The transplant provided him a special opportunity to participate in an unofficial St. Louis holiday – St. Louis Cardinal Opening Day – by participating in the relay of the official game ball from Cardinal Glennon to Busch Stadium. “Seeing him live a somewhat normal life after this because someone was so selfless is amazing,” Sarah said. “There are no other words.”


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