Written by Wayne & Renee Mills
We want to share with you what we call Darryn’s Story. Darryn is our third child. Our other two children are Ryan and Michelle who were 7 and 5 at the time of Darryn’s birth.
As all parents do, we prayed every day for our unborn baby’s health and development (especially since Renee had miscarried twice before). Things seemed to be progressing along normally and the day finally arrived. On May 19, 1995 Darryn was born, but seemed to be struggling to breathe and looked a little grey to us. With an oxygen tube in front of his face, he would pink up a little bit, but then soon after the greyish colour would reappear and he continued to struggle to breathe. Upon our continued insistence that he was in trouble the nurse took him to the NICU to be “observed”. Little did we know that we would not be bringing our baby boy home until he was two months old.
Once brought to the NICU Darryn was intubated and would remain on a ventilator for the next 19 days. Numerous tests were done and it was discovered that his kidneys were not working. It was decided that he would need to be sent to Children’s Hospital of Western Ontario (CHWO) in London to diagnose the reason his kidneys were not working and to try to remedy the problem. This is the point that we realized how critically ill he really was. At three days of age Darryn was transported to CHWO by helicopter while we drove the 2 hour trip white knuckled, praying all the way.
At CHWO Darryn underwent many more tests and procedures to try to challenge his kidneys to work, but to no avail. When he was 12 days old his doctor decided that a biopsy needed to be done. It was determined that his kidneys had not developed while he was in the womb, and that they would never be able to function. We were told that he would have to be put on dialysis until he was big enough for a kidney transplant, or we could let nature take its course. In simpler terms, we could intervene or let him die. Darryn underwent another procedure to insert a dialysis catheter and started dialysis that very same day. We didn’t yet know all this would entail, but leaving our precious baby to die was definitely not an option for us.
With each day of dialysis performed Darryn’s blood was cleansed from the harmful poisons that had been building up from his lack of kidney function. Two days later we were able to hold him for the first time since his birth. Even though he was still on the ventilator, the nurses took the time to make sure that we were able to bond with Darryn now that he wasn’t as critically ill.
Once dialysis was started he was able to receive breast milk through an NG tube. Up until this time he was only receiving tiny amounts of IV fluids because his body could not eliminate fluids on its own.
As time went on, Darryn’s lungs developed enough that he was able to breathe on his own and the ventilator was removed when he was 19 days old. Then came the daunting task of seeing if he would be able to breastfeed or bottle feed. The majority of babies on dialysis do not have any desire to do either and are fed through a permanent G tube. The fact that he was able to breast feed is a miracle and almost unheard of.
During our time in the hospital we experienced a gamut of emotions. Not knowing if he was going to survive when he was being airlifted to London. One older nurse mistakenly telling us that they cannot do dialysis on babies. His doctor telling us that Darryn would not die on his shift. These were the days where we also felt the peace that cannot be explained or understood. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7
It is something that can only be experienced while going through difficult times where you know God has you completely in the palm of his hand. It is a time when you can approach the throne of grace at the bedside of your child in the NICU. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. John 14:27
Once Darryn was healthy enough to be discharged from the hospital we were trained how to do the dialysis at home. They loaded us up with our dialysis machine and filled our van full of supplies to take with us. That day couldn’t come soon enough for us to bring our sweet baby home.
As time went on Darryn had to overcome many obstacles like minimal growth, physical delays, infections and hospitalizations, but through it all we knew that God was holding him in the palm of His hand.
Throughout this time we were constantly praying for our MIRACLE – that Darryn’s kidneys would miraculously be healed and begin to function as they should. The thing is – we aren’t able to see God’s big picture – and as we look back we see many “smaller miracles” that God definitely performed for our son.
When Darryn was 3 and one-half years old he was finally big enough to have his transplant. Wayne was able to donate one of his kidneys in a 7 hour operation at Toronto’s Sick Kids Hospital. Darryn was in the hospital for one month and we needed to stay in Toronto for an additional month while his anti rejection meds were regulated and his new kidney was monitored to make sure it was functioning well.
Another blessing was having willing family members to take care of our two older children, both when we were gone when Darryn was in London and when he had his transplant in Toronto.
We have often wondered “How can people go through things like this without the Lord?” Not a day goes by that we don’t see the grace of God since we have a walking miracle living in our own home.
The years have come and gone and our lives have changed dramatically. We are not the same people who drove to the hospital in Windsor just 19 years ago hoping to be home a couple days later with our newborn baby. Our journey continues and we find ourselves stronger and more appreciative of the blessings in our lives. Things that used to be important just don’t seem to be a priority any more. Our marriage is stronger and our children know that our God is alive and still working miracles. We are so thankful to the Lord for walking our journey with us.
Wayne & Renee Mills have been married for 28 years. They have 3 children: Ryan (27) who is married to Faith, Michelle (25) who is married to Jeremy, and Darryn (19). They are also the proud Papa and Nana to 2 beautiful grandchildren: Dillon (3) and Emma (22 months). They are always happy to share about their journey with Darryn so that someone else might be encouraged.