Lance and Layne’s Story

Site created on May 20, 2021


Welcome to our Caring Bridge website.  We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place.  We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement.  You can check here periodically for postings, or with an account you can opt-in for notifications (click "My Account" and then "Notifications" to choose the types of alerts you receive).  Also,  the "Tributes" link and any messages requesting donations are Caring Bridge's fundraising efforts to support their website costs-  not a request by the Morton family.   

Here's the backstory:   
About 20 years ago, Lance was diagnosed with Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease.  The condition causes kidneys to radically enlarge as cysts form throughout the kidneys, and renal function declines over time due to the damage.  This is usually an inherited disorder, affecting 1 in 1,000 people; however, Lance is the only person in the family who has it (1 in 10 people with PKD get it from a random mutation).   There’s no cure for PKD, and 50% of the cases move to end stage renal failure by age 60.   Lance reached this point at the end of 2020 and needs a new kidney.  

Lance had three people step up and offer a kidney: Lani (his wife), Lori, (his sister), and Layne (his fraternal twin brother).  Being blood relatives, Layne and Lori were the most likely candidates.  They each went through initial testing, but Layne got a head start and did the extensive follow-up testing.    It turns out that he is a match (and a male-male transplant is more ideal), so Layne will undergo a nephrectomy and  give a kidney to Lance. 
 
The transplant is set for June 21st at UT Southwestern Medical/Clements University Hospital in Dallas, Texas.  (Fun fact:  Normally a transplanted kidney is placed alongside existing kidneys.  However, Lance’s native kidneys are too large and diseased to remain in his body, so they’re being removed.)  Layne will spend several days in the hospital and recover here in Texas until cleared to fly back to his home in California.  Lance will be in the hospital a bit longer, and will recover at home until cleared to return to work.    

Newest Update

Journal entry by Lance Morton

Hello Morton Kidney Transplant supporters!   This supplemental journal entry is to keep interested parties informed, serve as “proof of life”, and add an additional section to the road map of experiences for anyone else going through a kidney transplant. 

Math

Life is a series of probabilities.  Some things are incredibly improbable/unlikely, yet they happen.  For example, being the only person in your family having a disease that is normally passed down genetically is as unlikely as my mother sinking a basketball through the hoop on a full court overhand toss (no offense intended, Mom). 

Then, there are things that are highly probable, but you doubt they'll occur.   Our biases lead us to believe “It won’t happen to me”.    There are various terms for this mindset.  Some examples are:

  • "optimism" bias
  • "neglect of probability" bias
  • "I’m not good at math or rooted in reality and don’t have a clue about the world I live in" bias
    (my interaction with other humans makes me believe a lot of people are in this space – myself included)

Why am I’m talking about math/probabilities?   To answer that, here’s a quote from my October 9, 2021 journal entry:

“As I transition off Tacrolimus (tapering dosage down) and onto Belatacept (tapering dosage up), I’m more at risk of a rejection episode. “

The rejection episode 

I started feeling odd the first weekend of this month. There were some headaches, some periods of extreme exhaustion, and I generally felt ‘wrong’.  In short, it seemed like something was brewing, but I did my best to ignore it.

Early the next week, I had some muscle aches, chills, and a periodic low fever.  This got worse with each passing day.   On Wednesday the 10th, the fever went over 101, so I called my transplant team for guidance per the instructions in my standard issue kidney transplant handbook (this book is a real thing, it’s a good thing, and documentation shall save us all).  

I was told to go to an Urgent Care facility for a COVID and flu test.  The results were negative.   Then, they told me to go to the UT Southwestern emergency room for another COVID and flu test (evidently, someone seemed convinced I had COVID or the flu).   These were also negative.   

So, with that, they admitted me back into the big white hotel.   I was up on the transplant floor of the hospital for the next seven days.  

A kidney biopsy confirmed that my body was trying to forcibly evict Billy the Kidney through an “acute T cell-mediated rejection”.   My body’s plan for getting the kidney OUT of me remains a mystery, and I’m not going to think about it too much.   All I can come up with are mental scenes from the TV shows Breaking Bad and Dexter

While I was in the hospital, my creatinine climbed to 7.24 mg/dl and I got pretty sick before it came down.  There were the usual “illness” things like a high fever, uncontrollable shaking/rigors, and soaking sweats.  Then, there was the lack of kidney function which caused fluid retention, problems with phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium.   

I gained 20 lbs. of fluid in a few days, and that made normal things like moving, breathing, and having a heartbeat all very interesting.  (Note: they drew 14 lbs. of fluid off me in under two days and I dropped most of the rest after leaving the hospital).  

The treatment to stop the rejection involved four rounds of thymoglobulin infusions.   For those of you who are into the science of this experience, here’s an interesting fact:

Thymoglobulin is made by taking donated human white blood cells (T-lymphocytes) and injecting them into a rabbit. The rabbit's blood makes its own antibodies (a blood protein) against these T-lymphocytes. These antibodies are then taken from the rabbit's blood and made into Thymoglobulin.

I guess this explains my new love of carrots.

As an ongoing effort to suppress my body’s immune system, the doctors have added another medication to the mix: Zortress/Everolimus.  I’ll stay on Belatacept and Myfortic, too. 

For a while, I’ll be back on a heavy prednisone dose, more antibiotics, and more antiviral meds.  And, of course,  there will be many blood tests to see how things are going. 

All things considered, I’m very blessed.  While the experience was unpleasant (the way falling down and scraping your teeth on the pavement is “unpleasant”), things could have turned out a lot worse.    Lani watched over me, cared for me, and did all she could to cheer me up when I was at my lowest.   The medical staff did a great job of turning this situation around.   And, on the bright side, I’ve got a new experience under my belt.   This will be a good set of memories to draw upon whenever I get frustrated with the more mundane things in life. 

Until next time, my friends, stay well.  

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