Thursday, February 6, 2020

9 years ago Kelsey's Homegoing

I made this post the day she died..Feb.2, 2011: Continual dialysis, ventilator, & more drugs than they can keep up with, another line placed in neck. Told night nurse to watch out for miracle. Hoping. Praying. Tracy's here. Angie helping by day. Kelly holding night vigil. Walk by faith, not sight! -Mom

Karly's thoughts 2020:Reading this still pumps the blood through my veins faster. I remember this day, not perfectly, but the emotions are fresh. I have those momentary flashes of memory from her last day, and as much as they are not pleasant, I must feel them as I remember her. My beautiful sister. So smart, caring, kind. Never knew a stranger. Willing to lead the way. As life goes on, I give credit to you. You made such a daring sacrifice that I get to see the fruit of. It's beautiful, sis. The DOCK8 lives that are saved now because of you, including mine. Gosh, I miss you, but I wouldn't be here if you were. Someone had to do it, and you said it had to be you. So many times, I want to share my life experiences with you, but I can't. I still don't always understand why, but I know I will always be thankful for you. I praise God that you are dancing with Him in Heaven. Surely enough, we will see you again. A hope that I strongly cling to. I try to live better with this chance at a second life, because of you, and you still inspire me to push myself harder. I can only praise God for His marvelous plans, and live to tell His story. This life I live is not my own, and I must use it the way you did. As a living sacrifice to others. Thank you, Kelsey E. J. Koch for the life you lived so well! ♥️

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Kelsey's 6 year home-going anniversary

Six Years Home and Still His Miracles

I pray you have the endurance to stick with this story and see God's amazing love and grace to all of His creation. This story just might release you from the burden of who's in the White House or who is or isn't allowed in the country or any of the other current distractions. This is a story of God's love for all the world. And it starts with my Kelsey's journey through her life.
Some may say this is just an attempt at this old man's search for meaning in a meaningless situation. That coincidence is playing tricks on me. But I think not. Piecing this story together is going to take some time. There are some details that you need to know to truly understand my vision of what I believe God is up to. So I begin with some facts.
Fact one, I used to coach basketball at Monroe Central years ago. I got out of it because my family needed the time it was taking for their coaching needs. I really have not desired to be involved with MC basketball since I left. Up until last Tuesday night, I hadn’t been to a varsity game at our high school gym since then.
Fact two, one of the friends I sat with at the game Tuesday I literally see twice a year at the opening and closing faculty meeting we have each year for work. We used to have other interests years ago being that we were both home schooling parents and our children interacted in home schooling coops. In fact, this is where Kelsey and his son met and dated for a time.
Fact three, my friend from the game hadn't been to many games this year either, this possible was the third.
Fact four, Kelsey's home going was 6 years ago on the second of February.
So with these facts let me try to explain what I see as God marvelous grace and love for all people.

I have recently had this strange interest in the girls’ basketball team. Yes, there are many former students, and yes, they are achieving record breaking feats. But, there have been other MC sports with the same kinds of successes, and I wasn't drawn to them like I have been to this team. Something else seemed to be pulling at me to go see this team play. So I did. I went to their last two regular season games. And they are good and entertaining. After the last regular season game, I told my wife if they got out of their sectional, I may want to watch them at state. But, I really had no plan to go to any sectional games as they are in a tough sectional, and I didn't want to go and watch them possibly lose. My thought process was, “Let them prove themselves and then I'd spend the money.” But something told me I needed to see them in that Tuesday night sectional opener. So, I went last minute and didn't plan on sitting with anyone. I hadn't told anyone I was going until that evening.
Coincidence or divine appointment, you decide.
So I sat down and was watching warm-ups and my friend, the one I see twice a year, comes and sits next to me. He too doesn't know why he decided to come but he likes the team and all that stuff. We begin having pleasant conversation. During this conversation, we go back to a time when we were looking for a miracle for Kelsey and Karly and had a stem cell drive at my church. Neither he nor his son went to my church at the time and although his son had dated Kelsey, they were simply friends. But because of their friendship, he had participated in this stem cell drive. Fast-forward to the ball game. My friend tells me that his son had recently gotten a call from the stem cell registry and he was a match for someone in Australia. His son had begun the process of donating his stem cells for transplant to Australia.
Kelsey knew that the chances of finding a match for her were like winning the lotto. But one of the reasons was she wanted to run the drive was to help others. She was trying to do her part so that God could do His part, possibly for her, but certainly with the thought that somebody else may find their match as well. I knew Kelsey's heart in this. Her transplant was to go second (after Karly) but wanted to go first in hopes that, successful or not, they would know more about this untried procedure before Karly had to endure it. Since Karly had the cancer, she was scheduled to go first. Then that changed when Kelsey's health diminished in her last months before transplant. Her heart was for the research, the ground breaking leading to cure.
So here we are, over six year past her passing, and I am at a basketball game hearing about how Kelsey's effort has again been responsible for the possibility of another life changing miracle. I should mention that Kelsey's failed transplant led the transplant team away from that method to other methods that have had great success including Karly's victorious transplant.  But this is just another in a long lists of things God has shown me my daughter's life has had a major role in achieving.
So to recap, because of Tammy and my religious convictions and Kelsey's health issues, we choose to home school. Kelsey meets a young man and because of their friendship he joins Be The Match. Over six years later, someone around the world is found to be a perfect match to that young man and will be receiving the life giving stem cells he needs in a transplant. And I hear about this miracle “2 days” before the anniversary of my Kelsey's home going.
You can think what you want. I believe God knew this man in Australia would need this transplant from the beginning of time. He has orchestrated this whole process to get those cells for him. God cares for His people and has a plan for their lives. And he reminds me with this precise timing just so I can brag about his marvelous grace and love.
What a wonderful life my daughter got to live. Oh, it was tough as nails but in hindsight she was a blessing to so many. And now you know the rest of the story. Praise GOD! :)
One parting thought. God's love is personal! He love's that person in Australia with this miracle gift and he loves me with His words of confirmation, and he loved Kelsey with His special mission only she could have accomplished. And His love is personal for you too!


Saturday, September 24, 2016

An unexpected gift...

Yesterday was Tracy's birthday. In my email inbox was an article that Karly's doctors wrote about her transplant as it was the first, quite the big deal, and even more so since it's success. The article is in press, so I cannot share it with you all yet, but is was such a huge blessing. Just 7 years earlier on that same date, yes, Tracy's birthday, the New England Journal of Medicine published the first DOCK8 article sharing the stories of 11 people, 4 of whom had already died, and 2 being Kelsey and Karly. It seems like we have come full circle....maybe. I have no idea what God has in store for Karly's life, but we are so grateful that she has one. She is SO grateful to be living life as a college student. It is so hard for her, but she's not letting that stop her. She is ministering to the college students and making a difference. Please pray for her cognitive processing to be healed as it really deters her learning, yet she is coping. Please pray for her in ministry. Please pray for her healing to be completed. Continue to pray for our dock8 families. The road is long, tough, and uncertain. The haplo-identical bone marrow transplants have been going very well lately. I think I mentioned earlier that Karly was the first, the second survived, the third died, the fourth survived, the 5th died, and since then they have all been successful. They are learning from each one of us. We are thankful for these strong families. Whenever you think of us, please pray for them.

As for me, I'm getting my legs under me again...hopefully a better me from learning so many lessons from my Lord and Savior. He is taking me in new directions, new ministries. I'm very excited! All I can say is live each day fully doing His will...not your own.

James 4:14-1514 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

Matthew 6:3434 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

As always I thank God for you, our prayer warriors, our family, our friends.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

2 Years Old

We just spent Karly's 2nd birthday at the NIH in Bethesda, MD. She received Tyler's life-saving bone marrow 2 years ago on July 25, 2014. That time was full of the unknown, yet we were at peace following God's plan to proceed with this transplant. Little did we know all the benefits that would come of it. There have been many DOCK8 Haplo-transplants since then...mostly with a fantastic outcome. We remember those that didn't make it through their transplant. It saddens us. We start saying, "if only," but quickly dismiss it because it is and always has been in God's hands. His timing is perfect. We stand in awe of Karly's life since the transplant. What a transformation! We've said it before and say it again, "She went from dying to thriving!"

It was an extremely packed week full of appointments and meeting with old and new friends. We feel so blessed every time we meet a new dock8 family. It feels good to be able to share that bond with those that really "get it" and "live it." For Karly, it's a rare opportunity when she can talk with someone who can even remotely begin to understand what a life of terminal/chronic disease is. She would probably say that is her favorite thing about going back to NIH.We get questions like, "What is the worst thing about the haplo-bone marrow transplant," "When do you lose your hair," "When did you go outpatient," and "Where are the best places to go during your outpatient stay?" We pray for them to make it through the transplant and talk of hope.

Karly's tests are improving. Her kidney number, although still high, was the best it's been in 2 years. Her heart numbers are remaining steady. Her BP is great with medication. She dropped one medication for which we are thankful(we were hoping for more to be dropped). Her PFT tests showed numbers she hasn't seen since 2009. Her adrenal insufficiency has been a slow climb over the last two years, but we saw it increase  from 1-8.  The normal number is about 20, so she still has a long way to go (rats). She received 9 vaccines and did super well with all of them. She had her 4 wisdom teeth removed in the OR under general anesthesia for safety reasons. It went well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               We had fun Wednesday night being escorted by 7 Montgomery County Policemen on motorcycles during rush hour to Toys R Us. It was so cool watching them do their job in front of us. Their was a lot of oohs and awes by the kids and parents. After the kids shopped, we were escorted to a pizza place, then back to the Inn.

The most exciting news is that Karly will be starting the Physical Therapy Assisting Program in August. It will be 2 years long, and she'll receive her Associate's Degree. She longed to do this since her cancer in 2009. When she didn't get into the program last summer, she had to be patient and wait till this year to try again. She re-took the one class she had a "B'" in and received an "A". God's timing is perfect, and her body is ready to withstand the rigors of the program. She is so grateful and beyond excited..which doesn't even begin to describe how she feels. We are so proud of all she has persevered through and the young woman she is. God is using her on the Ivy Tech campus, the Oneighty program, her Bible Studies, and I cannot wait to see what this next chapter brings.

I will end with Karly's life verse. It seems quite appropriate. Proverbs 3:5-6:
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths."

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

2 months before the 2 yr anniversary of her experimental transplant

Hi All,
I have been remiss in keeping you all updated. Since February, Karly has been fighting some kind of infection in or around her eye. We first thought it was caused by her sinus', but after treatment of that, we saw no improvement. Then she tried an eye drop antibiotic...not much improvement. Then a different eye drop antibiotic...again no improvement. She was bleeding out the corners of her right eye, and it was worsening. Finally, we were allowed to see her eye surgeon who had placed her eye tubes prior to her transplant. He confirmed that she was infected in her lacrimal sac. He said that he needed to make a new tear duct that bypasses the old blocked one. He performed a Dacryocystorhinostomy this morning. It is the surgical procedure usually used to treat most cases of blocked tear ducts in adults and rarely in children.This technique creates a new route for tears to drain out through your nose normally again by developing a new connection between your lacrimal sac and your nose. He said she was abscessed and no amount of antibiotic would have worked, so we are grateful that she was diagnosed and now treated. We hope for a speedy, painless recovery. She can't do anything for 48 hours, then about a week of taking it easy. 
Her BP has been high since the beginning of May. Not sure why. We are in a wait and see mode...will it return to an acceptable number or stay high? If it stays high, then the most likely cause is that her renal arteries are blocked again...not what we want. A couple good things with the HBP is that the pressure pushes blood through her kidney better and makes her lasix work better. Bad things are: makes her heart work harder, makes it harder to control potassium intake and possible stenosis. 

Karly turned 22 on Monday. She reflected that she will be outliving Kelsey who died at the age of 22. It is both a sad memory and a happy one. She celebrated with her boyfriend, Zach and also her family. We are grateful for every birthday of everyone. We take nothing for granted. We hope you count the cost of life everyday. God has a plan for YOU. Don't waste it. Living life centered on God's purpose for us is amazing. Karly has had an amazingly, God-awed year. Ask her about it sometime when you have time to listen. God is good all the time!

Thank you for standing strong with us throughout the years. I hope to do a better job communicating, but thanks for your patience.


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

5 years ago...Kelsey's Homegoing

This is from Kelsey's Memorial page on Be The Match.

Kelsey lived life exuberantly until her death on February 2, 2011. She lived with an undiagnosed primary immunodeficiency disease until 2009 when it was finally diagnosed at the National Institutes of Health as Dock8 Immunodeficiency Syndrome. Having spent 10 years in a research protocol at the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease, she gave more blood, skin, and cells than anyone with this disease leading to its discovery. Kelsey and her sister Karly were among the first 11 diagnosed with DOCK8 as stated in the New England Medical Journal September 23, 2009.
Her goal was to fight this disease in a rip-roaring manner in hopes of finding a cure for her younger sister, Karly, who has the same disease, and others fighting the same battle. With the knowledge at hand, she moved forward with a Double Cord Blood Stem Cell Transplant Fall 2010. It was the first transplant of its kind for DOCK8 in the world. She developed many complications which ultimately lead to her death. She fought valiantly and gave her body to the Institute to further research in this area. We never found a match for Karly, so the NIH continued to work on Karly's behalf to find an alternative for her and the other DOCK8 patients with no match. Karly became the first Haplo-Bone Marrow Transplant for DOCK8 on this side of the world on July 25, 2014. It was textbook if a textbook had already been written. Her case was writing the textbook. Other Haplo Transplants have occurred since then. We continue to educate people about the National Donor Marrow Program and the ease to join the registry. Our story is told more fully on and

Kassidy's memories of Kelsey: She was very nice to me and very good at dancing. I remember her teaching me dance. She was outgoing. I wanted to be outgoing like she was. She was very friendly and could make friends with anybody. She wasn't afraid to express how she felt and what she believed in. Kassidy was 9 when Kelsey went home.

Konner's memories of Kelsey: I used to walk into room and find her reading her Bible. She came into my room at night and asked if I had any questions about what I was reading. She encouraged me to dance and learn the splits. One day we did the splits together. Whenever I'm at tap and not striving to do my best, I think about how she would do it and that pushes me on. When I'm not at home, I remember to be nice to people because Kelsey showed kindness to everyone. Remembering her life encourages me to live my life to the fullest. Konner was 11 when Kelsey went home. 

Karly's memories of Kelsey: When you sat by her, she had the tendency to pinch you with her toes, then tickle you. She helped me at the hospital to be brave. We would share a room, so when the phlebotomist came in she would stand behind him and make faces when it was my turn to take my mind off it. She displayed courage, bravery and how to overcome so then I would try to be like her. She seemed perfect to me. She found joy amidst everything. She had the loudest laugh in the room. She was dependable. She knew what to say and how to say it. Karly was 16 when Kelsey went home.

Trent's memories of Kelsey: Cupcakes! Haven't had one as good as hers since then. Trent was 18 when Kelsey went home.

Tyler's memories of Kelsey:She taught me to like rock and not be afraid of people with tatoos. I loved hanging out in her apartment when we were in college. P.O.D- Goodbye for Now.
This song reminds me of Kels. Tyler was 20 when Kelsey went home.

Life with certainty is faith and trust in our God. We didn't choose to live life without her, so there is that sadness that will remain, but confidence....God knows exactly what is next. He knew then, and He knows now.

18 months post-transplant

Praising Jesus that her transplant has gone so well! She is still thriving! Her BP continues to stay steady. We have seen her Indiana nephrologist, interventional radiologist, and cardiologist. We have made some changes and as usual it is the balance between heart and kidney happiness. Karly makes daily changes depending on what her body is doing. We leave for the next round of NIH visits on February 24. We haven't received a schedule, but it should be more of the usual. We look forward to seeing our NIH friends and other DOCK8 families.

God faithfully leads us day by day. We still pray for whatever steps God wants us to take each day. I guess it is fair to say that we are quite flexible and able to change a direction quickly. Karly posted some thoughts, and I wanted to share them here in case you hadn't seen them yet.

My thoughts on 1 Corinthians 12...
 SO I was just reading these verses in 1 Corinthians and felt inspired to share my thoughts...
Unity and Diversity in the Body
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues[d]? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.
1 Corinthians 12:12-31

I find it so amazing how God has made the body, and how He has made the Body of Christ. I just finished a semester of Anatomy & Physiology, and while it’s a hard subject to understand, I am fascinated with it! I think about how every little thing is necessary in the body because of its specific purpose. Without just one atom, cell, chromosome…etc., the body functions differently or is compromised. For example, my heart started failing when my renal arteries started to narrow and dysfunction due to DOCK8. When the heart is given resistance through narrow pathways, it feels the need to increase the flow of blood more forcefully.  As internal vessel pressure increases, the heart works harder. So the narrow resistance made my heart work entirely too hard, and eventually my heart compromised its shape to make sure it was performing to the level it needed to. The structure change caused functional difficulty which is heart failure. Even my small arteries are important for my body to function.  Another example is the production of a tiny little hormone called cortisol or hydrocortisone. Produced by the adrenal glands, this little guy has a huge job with handling the body’s stress. Being that I am adrenally insufficient (where my adrenal glands do not produce cortisol), I have to provide myself with the correct amounts of cortisol every day by taking it in pill form. I learned that stress can take over very quickly when the body doesn’t have enough cortisol to cope. I found myself in a high stress situation where I needed more cortisol, but didn’t know how much cortisol I really needed. I became very sick, debilitated, and could not do any normal day tasks. This little guy means life or death in some situations, and I am taken aback when I realize how perfectly each aspect of the body was designed. I can’t believe that such an intricately, complex design can just happen out of nowhere. What I can believe, though, is a loving Creator who spent time thinking about every little detail, thinking about all the different personalities as he laced every part together, and the tears of joy streaming down his face when his design is complete. Every single part is just as important as the other, and it is the same in the Body of Christ. Every member of the body of Christ is absolutely necessary. We were all made especially different for specific purposes. With all of our different talents, skills, and abilities, we are all being used in God’s interwoven plan to produce something bigger and better. If we were all made the same, we would have the same purpose and then only one task is getting accomplished. God loves us more than that, though. He has an individualized, thought out plan for each one of us, and He desires to use each one of our plans in His masterpiece. We get to be a part of his wondrous plan. He didn’t have to let us in on this, but He loved us so much that He couldn’t resist. How amazing is it that such a supreme, omega God would yearn for us to be in His presence, and to be used as tools in His blueprint?