Maribel Butts is an incredible Mama and woman of faith that I have the honor of knowing personally because she is my cousin. One of the great things about being related is that I’ve had the privilege of witnessing her strength and courage firsthand and can now share her story with all of you. Maribel battled kidney failure in her 20’s and was the recipient of a new kidney in 2010. She is an incredible wife and mother of 2. She has battled faithfully against infections, numerous surgeries and setbacks in this journey and yet has done it with an incredible amount of faith and strength. Maribel overcame addiction and gang violence in her early teens (read about it here), teen parenting and now a life threatening illness. Her attitude and transparency about the ups and downs of this journey is truly inspiring. She continues to fight every day to keep a victorious attitude and does an amazing job at it. She shares her inspiring personal story with the community and educates about organ and tissue donation as a Donate Life Ambassador.
A huge part of her physical healing journey has been forgiveness and her Christian faith. This is a woman worth getting to know. Read her interview below and follow her at Maribel’s Kidney Story on Facebook and www.maribelskidneystory.com.
What is your history with kidney disease?
In 2001, they discovered I had problems with my kidneys which resulted in pre-term labor of my youngest son. In 2005, I was diagnosed with Neprotic Syndrome and was in end stage renal disease. I was on dialysis from 2005-2010; hemodialysis & peritoneal dialysis, both of which had its challenges. I received a kidney transplant in a miraculous way by partaking in an 8 person donor chain. This was very timely because, at the 5 year dialysis mark, my health was failing and my PD catheter for dialysis was starting to have problems. This was a great time of celebration for my family to be dialysis free.
What caused your kidney disease?
The doctors couldn’t do a biopsy to see exactly what had caused the kidney disease. They were challenged to keep the health of the left good kidney. Unfortunately, that ended up failing too. The MRI scan showed shrinkage of the renal arteries which is likely nephrotic syndrome. Doctors believe I have always had this since the day I was born.
What caused you to fight for survival?
My family, of course, but really my relationship with the Lord…what He laid in my heart to continue to fight and share His testimony in my life. I realized He was going to use this for a greater purpose.
Do you remember the moment when you decided that you weren’t going to let this illness beat you?
There were many times I had to make that decision. Sometimes it just felt so hard to fight because circumstances in my physical body seemed impossible to overcome. It was always something within me that reminded me of how blessed I was to have my family, the blessing of each day. So the decision to fight even when it seemed impossible was to be an example to never quit. Even if it meant fighting for just one more day. I want my kids to see that. I want my community to see that. Most of all, I want God to see how appreciative I am for giving me this will to live…to give me the faith to look outside my circumstance…the word and knowledge to not fear.
Where do you find the strength to be a wife, mother and a kidney transplant survivor?
Definitely supernatural spirit within. My strength comes from being a survivor…to really appreciate the roles as a wife and as a mother. That being my first calling in life. There have been many times that I was unable to do anything. It was very hard to not have the ability to cook for my family or attend baseball events. When my health is good I know not to take that all for granted. I have had to learn some hard lessons but at the end of the day I will say I’m content with my first calling in life to be there for my family.
What kind of things do you have to do to maintain good health and to prevent the possibility of kidney rejection?
Just recently our associate pastor shared the root word to health is heal. I continue to heal. Being more than a year and half post transplant, I see how valuable it is to allow time to heal. Not only physically, but emotionally as well. I started this process of full deliverance through Celebrate Recovery and years of hurt and denial revealed many stumbling blocks to maintain my physical health. Truth is anger can cause many health issues. But peace can bring healing. So with that in order I realized rest was very necessary for healing. I’m a go getter, active mom on my good days and having the kidney transplant was like good days everyday. However, I soon realized with recent infections that made it challenging to fight with a compromised immune system that my body is still healing. So a season of rest to heal for health is now in order. Also it is important to take medications on time and scheduled lab work to maintain kidney health.
What causes are you passionate about?
Sharing the gospel through ministries such as Celebrate Recovery. It is here I can share my testimony of my hurts, hang ups and habits. I see it as a close discipleship, allowing people to commit the time to heal themselves. I’m passionate about advocating about organ donation. Look at what it has done for me. I encourage everyone to be donors. Don’t fear what you can’t bring to heaven. If everyone in the US were donors there would be no waitlist. We would continue to recycle and extend life to those who want more time here on earth. I’m also passionate about the youth and education. They are our future. I want to invest my time not only in my own kids but in all children. Some people just won’t invest time. Time is everything and leading children in the right way through extra curricular activities such as art, music and sports can show them their giftings early on and lead them in a positive direction. Of course, being an example to them and emulating Jesus in what I do. This shows an unconditional love. This would be what would show the passion in what I do.
Do you have a favorite quote or scripture?
Philippians 4:13 “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” It was the one that got me through some very hard times! Easy to grab from my memory bank but powerful in its words!
What has been the most important revelation you’ve had around your healing and recovery?
Forgiveness. I know through my forgiveness I am able to be a better person overall. Sometimes it can be a process but continue to work on it until you truly are set free from any past hurts. It can hold you back regardless. In scripture in Matt 5: 23-24 it says, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the alter and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”
I realized my unforgiveness blocked the blessings God wants to give to me. Even if you aren’t the offender, you must acknowledge the part you’ve held on to (being the anger, resentment) to that person. You forgive for yourself, not always for that person. Then when you offer yourself to the Lord your connection is clear.
Thank you Maribel for your courage, honesty and willingness to share your story and words of wisdom. You are a true inspiration to mothers and women everywhere. I’m constantly encouraged by your strength and sense of purpose and know your story impacts far more people than you know.
Maribel has set a goal for her family to participate in the Transplant Games in Grand Rapids, MI from July 29-31. No donation is too small. Be a supporter and send Maribel’s family to the Transplant Games here.
For updates on Maribel go to www.maribelskidneystory.com
Maribel’s story drives home the real impact organ donation can have on someone’s life. Currently more than 110,000 men, women and children are awaiting organ transplants to save their lives. Thousands more are in need of tissue and cornea transplants to restore their mobility and sight. Register to be an organ, eye and tissue donor today and provide hope to those who wait.
Did Maribel’s story inspire you? Do you have a personal story of victory? Be sure to share your comments below. I’d love to hear from you.