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Dear Friends and Family,

We are writing to share the hardest decision we have ever had to make. After a long process of deliberation and evaluation, Christopher has decided to proceed with the heart/liver transplant process. He is now a candidate at Stanford Medical Center. After a lifetime with congenital heart disease, six heart surgeries, several other heart-related procedures, three pacemakers, multiple hospitalizations, and nearly dying on more than one occasion, Christopher’s doctors have advised that all treatments to keep his heart going have been exhausted: a new heart and liver is his only option. This will be a long, difficult, and costly process. We embark on this journey with mixed emotions ranging from terror and sadness to excited anticipation for a new lease on life and many more years with his wife, young son, and loving community.

Updates (24)

July 28, 2023

Hello Friends. July 16th of this year was one year since my heart and liver transplant. I had an extensive one-year check-up and all is well. Besides a positive clinical outlook, my body feels incredible. I have so much more capacity for life and all that it brings. My life has gone from black and white to color as a result of the health and vitality I now feel. I have such immense gratitude for my donor and for his family who, in what was likely a devastating hour, chose to give me this gift. I hold their grief close to my new heart. The last year has not been easy despite how good I feel. My family looks different than it did a year ago, but I feel confident that we are all moving towards continued healing. In fact, no longer being so sick allows me to do some long-needed personal work that previously I simply wasn’t able to handle. I remain deeply grateful to Jen for all she endured, held, and did over the years of my sickness and beyond. My son, who we love so dearly, is so lucky to have a mother that works as hard as she does at loving and at doing what needs to be done. And we are all grateful for those of you that have been there for us and continue to be here for us. We hope to offer up some of the love and support we have been given as it may be needed in different corners of our community. I don’t know what the next year brings, but it is damn good to be coming back to life. Blessings and gratitude.

January 23, 2023

Hello Everyone. On January 16th I celebrated six months with my new organs. It’s incredible to feel so good and to have energy I haven’t had since I was young. In the last six months I literally shed my skin, grew new nails, and watched skin conditions and varicose veins just clear up. I am able to move, run, and exercise in ways I haven’t in years. Best of all, I can play with my four-year old boy in the physical ways that he has longed for but only his mama, relatives and friends have been able to give him. Now, papa can do it too. My donor and his family gave me so much more than just two organs. Transplant is not merely a physical experience however, and emotionally and spiritually, it has been more challenging. There is an understandable sense that someone in my position would feel nothing but joy and gratitude. While I do experience both of those, the reality is more complex. Any life-threatening struggle is intense for everyone involved even after, and maybe especially after, you survive it. Returning home to a house with two other people who’ve also been through this huge, scary, and exhausting experience is… well as a friend says, it’s a trauma lasagna. It is understandable that we would struggle after such an experience, even if it went very well. Most people I’ve talked to about this, including counselors, are not at all surprised. But it took me back and has been harder than I’d anticipated. That said, we are slowly making our way through it and re-learning how to be a family and figuring out what that may look like moving forward. We are ever grateful for everyone’s love and support through every step. We also have begun feeling a strong draw to get back into life. So while I am immune-compromised and we still need to take precautions, please don’t assume we wont want to come to your party, dinner, or event. This also includes giving back to this community that has given us so much. So if we can be of any help, in any way, please give us the opportunity to do so. It would not be a burden but an honor to again participate in the mutual indebtedness that allows communities to thrive.

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November 29, 2023

Hi Christopher and Jen,
I’m thinking of you today on Giving Tuesday— a good excuse to show support for your combined journeys. Virtual hugs to your family.

Pat MacKenzie

February 23, 2021


Yarrow Sweningsen

February 4, 2021

sending love and healing from all 3 of us to the 3 of you.

Katrina Mayo-Smith