Byrd efforts to find a kidney for his mother
August 14, 2019
By Doug Milne, PGATOUR.COM
- August 14, 2019
- Jonathan Byrd's mother has been on a kidney transplant list for more than five years. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Mary Jo Byrd is a private person. A widow who lives alone, she prefers to keep to herself.
She is also a person in need of a kidney.
The mother of five-time PGA TOUR champion Jonathan Byrd has been on a kidney transplant list for more than five years now. Despite a dozen promising attempts from those willing to donate, in the end, no matches to the necessary O+ or O- blood ever rang through. Doctors encouraged her to consider taking her need to social media.
No chance that was happening to the woman who prefers not to draw attention to herself. Even in her condition. Especially in her condition. Or, so she thought.
“My mom called me the other night, tearful,” Byrd said. “It’s more about the disappointment. It’s the disappointment of getting your hopes up. She’s had a number of people come up and say they would love to donate a kidney. She’s so humbled by that, that somebody would do that for her. They then get deep into the process, where she’s waiting and waiting and she finds out at the end, it’s not a match.”
After that scenario repeated itself again recently – not once, but twice – May Jo gave her son her approval to take her story to social media.
“For the longest time, she insisted that she didn’t want to do that,” Byrd said. “But, when she just had two donors that didn’t work out, she told me to go for it and put it on social media. So, that’s what I did.”
On Monday night, a strong, composed Byrd took to Twitter. A close-up of the 2002 PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year was held for 1:06 while he shared the situation at hand.
“I’ve been humbled by it already,” he said. “I haven’t even been able to get through it yet. I just know that it was posted Monday night, and before I even went to bed, there was a guy that sent a note to say that he was going to go get tested and would donate. So, that’s pretty crazy.”
Byrd also has a mini-tour friend who lives in North Carolina who is checking to see if he would be a match.
Friends I’m reaching out with the hope of finding someone who might be able to help my family. My Mom has a serious kidney disease and is in need of a kidney transplant. Thank you guys for listening and sharing! - JByrd pic.twitter.com/FqqqysS5KS— Jonathan Byrd (@JByrdpga) August 13, 2019
Things for Mary Jo could be worse. So, far there has been no need for dialysis. Her numbers have been steady for a while, though she goes through periods where the levels may drop. When that happens, her energy level plummets. She doesn’t feel great. By medical standards, there is an age window, beyond which doctors don’t advise surgery.
“I don’t want to say there’s not urgency, because if there wasn’t, I would not have gone to social media,” said Byrd. “She is in stable health right now, but it’s on the edge to where if her numbers dropped, it could get worse quickly.”
Being on a transplant list, more than anything else, has been that admitted waiting game of disappointment. It’s not a disappointment with others, but more of a repeating sadness which comes as part of a vicious cycle of matches not being made.
“She’s not on dialysis, she hasn’t gotten to that point,” Byrd said. “And, she has been holding with a good number. But, you just never know. Her numbers could drop, and she could get to feeling pretty crummy and have concerns that what she needs just isn’t in place.”
Mary Jo has had a large handful of people, mostly friends and family from her church, come forward and try to be the one. For varying reasons, none have been.
Jonathan and his brother, Jordan, tried to help, but both having had kidney stones as kids precluded them from being viable options.
“Her quality of life has been stable to this point,” Byrd said. “There are plenty of people on the transplant list that don’t have a kidney or are on dialysis. That’s a very crummy position. My mom is pretty fearful about going on dialysis if she had to.”
Because a suitable donor could be identified at any moment, Mary Jo must remain close to home. The “what if” scenario is too close to real to run any risks.
“She has done an amazing job. She has changed her diet and really taken care of herself,” Byrd said. “But, she’s a widow, living at home by herself. With a new kidney, it would improve her quality of life, mentally as much as anything…just for her to know she has a healthy kidney, and can move on with life. It would give her the chance to do what she wants to do.”
The biggest effect from all she has had to undergo has been the emotional one.
“She gets her hopes up. She just never knows,” said Byrd. “She’s trying to take care of herself, she’s changed her diet and tries to stay strong. But, she just doesn’t know what may or may not be around the corner.”
The not knowing element is a challenge, but according to Byrd, so, too, is the bigger picture with which Byrd himself tries to get his arms around.
“I’m overwhelmed by it all,” Byrd said. “I don’t feel like I am as in tune with the whole process as I should be. I don’t know much about this, but I do know there are a lot of people out there who are in need of kidneys that are on transplant lists. It would do us all good to be more aware of it and understand there are people in need of healthy kidneys and other organs.”
What has remained Byrd’s rock his entire life is a direct result of a loving mother; God’s presence.
“My brother and I were both raised in a strong Christian home,” he said. “We had God-fearing parents. My mom didn’t give me her faith, but she displayed it every day. Whether it’s somebody in our family or another family, we were quick to pray to the Lord Jesus Christ and bring our needs to Him. So, she has been doing that for quite some time. That is who we are trusting in first and foremost. Instagram and Twitter are helpful tools, too.”
If you or someone you know would like to assist, please contact the donator coordinator at MUSC Hospital in Charleston, South Carolina, at 843-792-5097. You can also call Shelby Adams at Augusta University Hospital at 706-721-8560.