Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mass Kidney Swap

Surgical transplants are not normally thought of in terms of a record-setting kidney swap – until now.

Surgeons at Georgetown University and Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C., gave the hope of new life to a group of 13 desperate kidney recipients after performing the twenty-six operations required to complete the task. The six-day surgical marathon was a record-setting feat and part of a pioneering effort to expand transplants to patients who would normally never qualify.

Often a kidney is donated by a relative or very close friend if the physical match is adequate. Sometimes it is not. And often the wait for the right organ goes on indefinitely. But in this case, a ‘pool’ of organs widened the opportunities since many otherwise incompatible issues were solved by the mixing and matching of all the donors and recipients. Upon meeting her own donor, one happy recipient stated, "It's a large gift to give somebody, something so selfless. God bless you." At present, there are 88,000 people on the national waiting list for a kidney.

Medical advancements have provided a second chance for some who would have no hope otherwise. But in the case of organ transplants, the surgical know-how is just part of the equation and is insufficient without those willing to make a huge sacrifice.

As impressive as this personal and sacrificial gift of extended physical life may be, it cannot begin to compare to the length and quality of the life offered through the ultimate donor of life - God’s Son.

In his first letter, the Apostle Peter spoke of how Jesus Christ provided spiritual healing through the giving of His own body as an offering for sin. 1 Peter 2:24 reads, “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness — by whose stripes you were healed.” Then, too, Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:25 related Christ’s own words about the part His own physical body would play in the redemptive plan of God. Just before His betrayal by Judas He declared, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me."

Scripture reveals the mind-boggling exchange of ‘sin for sainthood’ offered to every man by Jesus Christ. Paul makes that abundantly clear when he writes, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) God’s Son is the stand alone supreme donor as contended in 1 Timothy 2:4-5. “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.” And there are absolutely no compatibility issues whatsoever associated with the exchange of sin for salvation. “For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved." (Romans 10:13, John 3:16)

At this Christmas season millions of gifts will be thoughtfully given and happily received. Most will be joyfully exchanged under a tree. A few select others may even come via some surgeon’s skilled and life-extending hands. But no gift will ever match that of being the precious recipient of the One for whom the holiday is named. His love compelled Him to freely donate His all and to give His very best even while we were at our very worst.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:7-8)

Bill Breckenridge

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