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To all my friends throughout the years, family, and their friends. I have been struggling with liver disease for some years and in July 2020 it came to a critical point. On July 1, I experienced a blood clot that began the process of acute liver failure and have been in the hospital since then. In the urgency of the immediate need for a new liver in order to survive, I was transferred via Care Flight to the University of Utah transplant center for evaluation. I was selected on a Monday to be a recipient of a liver transplant and on August 7, the same week, received the new liver! The transplant team is quite pleased with the results and expects a complete recovery!
As family and friends, we are asking you to join us in the journey in fundraising for the nonprofit Help Hope Live to help with expenses I will be facing throughout my two months of hospitalization and year-long recovery process. The out-of-pocket costs are quite large including the surgery and hospital costs. I am currently on leave from my position as a mental health counselor for the Nevada State Correctional Institute working with inmates, so I receive no monthly income until I can return to work. In addition, I will be required to pay my health insurance premiums in order to receive ongoing medical benefits.
I have always been positive and believe that God has a plan of redemption and restoration throughout this incredibly difficult life experience. I refuse to have my life limited by my current circumstances and choose to believe God has a new story awaiting me upon recovery. I remain in Utah in nearby housing and make nearly daily trips to the transplant clinic in the recovery process (including a recent repeat hospitalization). I will be required to stay here for perhaps an additional 6-8 weeks for medical care. I am incredibly grateful to God for the new liver, but I need help as it has left me with medical expenses I cannot possibly pay myself.
Any donation to Help Hope Live will ease the overwhelming financial burden of the transplant and allow me to focus on recovery and the new story God has waiting for me. My prayer is that God will use this experience to allow me to have an increased impact with others, especially the inmates I counsel, in bringing hope and redemption.
Family and friends of Gary Brink are raising money for the nonprofit Help Hope Live to fund uninsured medical expenses associated with transplantation.
Gary has chosen to fundraise for Help Hope Live in part because Help Hope Live assures fiscal accountability of funds raised and tax deductibility for contributors. Contributors can be sure donations will be used to pay or reimburse medical and related expenses. To make a tax-deductible donation to this fundraising campaign, click on the Give button.
For more information, please contact Help Hope Live at 800.642.8399.
Thank you for your support!
It's a Matter of Perspective: A Birthday Insight
Today, my birthday, causes me to reflect. 2020, a year filled with such perplexing themes with Covid-19 and an election that we have never experienced in our lifetime. I also am aware of many who have experienced such tragedy in their personal stories as well...
As a spiritual man, I believe that God is present in each of our stories, our country and the world. Living in that belief allows me to view 2020 as a blessing in knowing that I am not in control, rather our Higher Power is. This will be a year I will never forget, albeit perhaps one of the most difficult years of my life as I have been given the gift of life in a liver transplant. Someone lost their life and a family is grieving in the loss of their loved one to provide a liver and extend my years.
It's my hope and prayers for the donor's family and for you that there is the ability to see God's hand of majesty at work--even in the midst of loss. Living in this perspective gives me purpose and gratitude for life.
Introduction of Sandy (my person)
I've been remiss in not introducing you all to Sandy. Earlier this summer we became engaged! I am thankful to her for standing by me as she endured my health crisis and also the extended support from her family. I feel blessed by God that she has been my person including being my primary caregiver (along with my brother Terry) during my extended stay in Utah while I was receiving treatment for the liver transplant.
This has been quite the unexpected ride for Sandy as in many ways I have turned her life upside down. She has modeled and lived out love, commitment and patience in the midst of my acute illness. I have been understanding and experiencing intimacy in a more profound way than I have ever known.
Sandy, words could never express all the emotions I have inside me in our walk together the past year plus. Simply stated, I love you.
October Fundraising Goal
Hopefully I will be back to work part-time beginning in November which will certainly lighten some of the financial burden I am experiencing. However, the medical bills are beginning to come in the mail on top of my monthly living expenses. Here is what I am asking for help with the month of October:
900.00 Monthly Health Insurance Premium (Cobra as I am on unpaid sick leave)
4000.00 Current medical bills that are due from both Carson Tahoe Medical and the University of Utah Medical System
4500.00 Total for October
Any help, including prayers and emotional support are deeply needed and appreciated. Please leave a comment in the comment section below. Thank you!
After nearly two months of being in the hospital and under the medical care of the Transplant Team, I've been released and am back in Carson City. I do not rightly recognize my apartment as I've only spent a couple nights there since the beginning of July. The doctors are quite pleased with my body's acceptance of the Larry the liver and the lack of complications. The Team is concerned with how the anti-rejection medications have impacted my immune system. Thus, even though I feel better physically than I have for years, they are cautious in my return to work. Hopefully I'll be able to return part time in November.
Each day I am becoming aware of the positive results of the transplant. My vision is better than it has been in years! The swelling in my abdomen has drastically declined and I no longer am experiencing irritations with my skin. I am so grateful for your spiritual, emotional and financial support. Certainly all of you have played a significant role in my recovery and the gift of life. Thank you.
The Impatient Driver
I observed an impatient driver recently. A very well dressed man driving a luxury vehicle pulled up next to us in the right turn lane. There was a car in front of him not turning and he became quite upset. I sat taken back by all the anger he was displaying at being delayed a few moments at a stop-light. My initial reaction was if he was behind me, I would take my time and agitate him even further. However, upon reflection I came to understand that this complete stranger would then have the ability to impact my emotions and attitude. Instead, I thought of a different narrative, that of him being late for work or perhaps even a life event even more urgent. It felt much better to choose compassion rather than agitation.
Perhaps a gift I have received from my liver transplant is a new lens of viewing life/interactions with others through that of compassion and value. I have quite a distance to travel before I master this life skill, however, this moment of choosing compassion over agitation was a gift to my soul and my new liver, Larry (see previous post). I would encourage you to practice this life skill as it will bring gifts to your soul!
Remembering Your Roots
It seems that the most treacherous and perilous times of my life have occurred when I have strayed from my roots. Our upbringing, faith and life experiences have forged our character and veracity. In reflection, the most pain I have experienced in my life is when I somehow forgot or dismissed what I knew to be true and right. It can be quite easy to get distracted or lose sight of decisions we make that might be contrary to who we know ourselves to be. Those decisions can come from places of loneliness, shame or even through an addiction.
The hope is that we are defined by how we respond to our mistakes, not the poor decisions themselves. Remember your roots, where you have come from and who your integrity cries out for you to be. It is remarkable to experience life when we find ourselves living in a world of honesty, tolerance, unselfishness, peace of mind and a sense that those around us are created by God and loved. I have discovered that it is never too late to begin anew and that midcourse corrections are not only necessary for us all, but actually quite normal and healthy!
I have included a picture of one of the many trees that were blown over here in Salt Lake City in a recent wind storm.
The Patriotic Squirrel
Healing from a liver transplant allows some significant quiet time to recuperate and I have spent hours outside on the patio. Recently in one of the times sitting in the garden, I observed a squirrel drinking out of the fountain and then appeared to be mesmerized by the July 4th flags decorating the garden. He then began to attempt to pull a flag out of the ground, and after much effort succeeded. Now he had the flag in his mouth with the little flagpole extending outside his mouth and attempted to scale the tree. I laughed as I watched the squirrel nearly fall as he navigated the branches with such a large stick protruding out of his mouth. Over the next few days there were other flags that went missing, but I'm sure the squirrel will have a warm bed this winter!
I've been given a remarkable life changing experience receiving a new liver. It has also given me the gift of slowing down and seeing the goodness of life and the opportunity to observe nature and live in the moment that God has given us all. I would encourage you to take time, and sit in stillness/quietness and see what gifts await you. Before the transplant, I would not have been available to experience the "Patriotic Squirrel" and the humor he brought in the moment of stillness.
Visiting the Transplant Team: Leaving Utah soon!
I'm still living in Utah, but it sounds like it won't be for long. The Transplant Team reviewed my condition and stated I am making great physical progress. They also removed my staples and I was given another follow-up appointment for September 30th. If my condition continues to improve, I was told I will be released to return home then! Thank you for your prayers and support.
We have raised 10% of the September goal! I am so thankful. I have to pay my Cobra insurance bill for 2 months by Saturday which is almost $2000. Your support is deeply valued and appreciated. Keep those prayers and gifts coming. Also, please leave a comment as myself and others enjoy reading what you have to say. Thanks again for your help. I'm grateful for your prayers and support.
Thank you Terry and Chris
I'm so thankful to my twin brother Terry and his wife Chris for their sacrifice in Terry coming to Utah, and being my primary caregiver for over a month. They have made sacrifices to care for me including missing work. I am grateful to them and that they have lovingly cared for me, as I have certainly created change in their lives. Terry has been modest and stated countless times, "You would do the same for me...". Thank you Chris and Terry for your gift of time, presence and resources. God is good and provides!
September Medical Expenses: I need your help!
I thought it would be helpful to know the specifics of my medical expenses. Here are my September expenses:
Cobra Health Insurance 875
Anti-rejection meds 200
Caregiver Transportation 900
Medical Bills due 3500
I haven't included August expenses, but they total nearly $4000. Being I'm not able to work (thus no income), I'm required to pay for my health insurance at a Cobra rate of $875, monthly. I'm grateful to God for providing a liver and know that $11,375 for August and September is quite attainable. I'm grateful for your prayers, the kind words and financial support.
One day at a time
Dreaming of Donuts!
One of the big concerns from the transplant team has been my lack of appetite since the transplant. It's difficult to eat when you have no desire for food. Last week I began to get my appetite back! I awoke in the middle of the night craving a maple glazed donut! Since then I have even started to experience hunger pains. My organs need the nutrition and for me it started with a maple glazed donut! In the picture you can see the feeding tube that the transplant team has designated for me to gain additional nutrition as I have been receiving night feedings. I'm thankful with my appetite I no longer am of need of night feedings. I'm learning to be patient and understand progress is one step at a time.
I have included a picture of damage out side our apartment from a windstorm that occurred last night.
I have found that there are so many activities that I took for granted before the transplant. Simple tasks such as getting out of bed, picking up an item off the floor, and driving a car. I experienced some significant progress the last few days as I drove the car as I haven't driven for nearly two months! As I was driving, I told my brother Terry, "It's like riding a bike. Once you learn you don't forget...". He replied, "That's good, except you are driving the wrong way down a one way street." I guess my pride will always be a part of my human nature. I would encourage you to slow down and enjoy the moment you are experiencing and look to find a way to be completely present. It might mean closing your eyes, taking a deep breath and relax for a moment or two. I am learning to not take for granted life experiences, rather how do I become deeper present and fully live in the moment God has given?
I have attached a picture in the photo album of my office the past 4 weeks...
Home Sweet Home Away from Home:
I'm so grateful for my twin brother Terry who found this wonderful healing place to stay as I'm required to live locally until my complete release to physicians in Carson City. It is a small apartment complex containing 4 units, with whom all residents are transplant recipients. The owners have a ministry where they reach out and take care of those of us going through the transplant process. I have attached a picture of the garden where I frequently sit outside. I feel a sense of peace and ability to stop, rest and heal. I'm thankful for how God is all good and great and can rest in Him and that He is unchanging.
3 Steps Forward: Two steps Back
This Friday, I will have my four week anniversary of my liver transplant. The transplant team is delighted at my progress as my new liver is doing remarkably well. Two weeks ago I had to take a trip to the hospital in an ambulance with extreme abdominal pain where it was discovered I might have a strangulated hernia. I'm thankful it was not strangulated and my pain was managed and I was sent home three days later. The transplant team wants to avoid any surgery for a year but stated the hernia will eventually need to be repaired. Last Saturday my feeding tube became clogged. I am still not receiving enough calories so I receive tube feedings at night to supplement my diet. I took a trip to the ER to get it unclogged and now have to flush my tube with Diet Coke! I remain positive and grateful for my new liver (named "Larry"). He seems to like his new home and is playing well with the other children, especially the kidneys. As one of the MD's stated, "I think you like your new liver more than he likes you!" Again, God has a plan, even in the midst of taking two steps back; His design is eternal, bigger than we could possibly imagine or comprehend. I am grateful to be in His hands and what story he has planned for me.
I will forever remember all of the wonderful help you have provided to me over the years.
Prayers for healing for you.
Mike and I are forever grateful for the work you did with us early in our marriage. We continue to "pay it forward" with other couples by sharing the great info, tools, and resources you shared. Prayers for your recovery and financial stability.
Gary, sending many prayers for continued healing. You are an inspiration to me, and many others. I admire your positive attitude through all of this. Blessings to you.
Love the patriotic squirrel story!
Gary, We can’ t begin to imagine the impact this journey has had on you and will continue to have! What a gift, and what a ministry you can share with this experience ......I read your musings and marvel at your wisdom and words! God continue to heal you and bless you beyond your wildest imagination! We treasure your friendship more than you could possibly know!
Jim and Tammie Hamlin
Many prayers for healing and hope during this very challenging time. Your faith in God and his promises that \"All things work together for good\" will give you peace in the midst of turmoil and uncertain times.
Audrey shared this link with me. You are an inspiration to many who may be in a similar struggle. One day at a time sweet Jesus.
God Bless You Gary, you’ve always been one of my favorite humans. Praying for your healing and financial help.
I miss you my friend. Please take care of yourself. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
Sorry to hear about your challenges recently and it sounds like you are on the road to recovery. Odd to have two members of the family having to go through this with you and Jim, Gwen\'s husband. Thoughts and prayers for a speedy and successful recovery! I shared some photos from old slides with your Mom and Dad recently. Hopefully you were able to see them . She mentioned trying to pass along to the family. It was a great walk down memory lane. If you did not receive, I am happy to send directly if you share your contact info. Take care and say Hi to Terry! Brian
Brian and Betsy Thun
Gary - We are thinking of you every day and sending prayers and hopes for a continued speedy recovery! So happy to hear how well you are doing!! Our Lord is truly amazing - and so are you! We look forward to your updates on how you are doing.
P.S. we miss your blueberry muffins.
Guy and Diane Duensing
Gary - How precious are our Great and Gracious Heavenly Father’s thoughts toward you! How great is the sum of them! If you could count them, they outnumber the sand. And each new morning, He is still with you. His righteous right hand holds you fast.
Make checks payable to:
Help Hope Live
Note in memo:
In honor of Gary J Brink
Help Hope Live
2 Radnor Corporate Center
100 Matsonford Road
Radnor, PA 19087
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