Monday, January 07, 2019
by Dave Buck
MBMC | Sometimes, just when things seem to be working out, they don’t. Then they really do.
In the fall of 2017, Dwight Blankenship, senior pastor at Parkway Baptist Church in west St. Louis County, learned his kidneys were failing. His Missouri Baptist Medical Center nephrologist, Jay Seltzer, MD, advised a kidney transplant. Fortunately, a suitable donor was close at hand.
Dwight’s wife, Sherry, immediately volunteered. She’s also the lead chaplain in MBMC’s pastoral care department, and heads Parkway Baptist’s Women’s Ministry.
Tests confirmed Sherry as a compatible donor. Dwight’s surgery team was excited to find Sherry’s blood and tissues compatible, helping immunosuppressive drugs to prevent organ rejection. The Blankenships began extensive testing at MBMC and Barnes-Jewish Hospital in December 2017 to prepare for the transplant. Then things got complicated.
Dwight’s pre-surgery tests just before Christmas revealed arterial blockages. MBMC cardiothoracic surgeon Michael Mauney, MD, performed quadruple bypass the next day. Immediately afterward, Dwight began receiving four hours of dialysis, three times a week. Dialysis kept him alive, along with hope that after the transplant, he would no longer require dialysis.
Dwight’s recovery from the cardiac surgery went well, and on June 19, 2018, BJH nephrological/renal transplant specialist Jason Wellen, MD, and his team performed the kidney transplant. Throughout, the couple was sustained by the promise in Scripture’s Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you. I will never forsake you.”
The MBMC community stood with them, too. Sherry says, “Heartfelt prayers came in from every corner.” MBMC housekeepers, physicians and nurses rallied around them. MBMC president John Antes expressed the hospital’s support. Pastoral care director Alan Runge and MBMC surgeon Chris Pruett, MD, came to BJH to pray with Dwight and Sherry and their two sons on the morning of surgery. All of which leads Sherry to observe, “People at MoBap go the extra mile.”
Support didn’t end with the operation. During their shared recovery, the Blankenships received home-cooked meals via a meal train organized by their Parkway Baptist congregation, and a kindly neighbor mowed their lawn. There was also a very practical assist from BJC. As an organ donor, Sherry received four weeks paid leave from BJC. Adding that to four weeks of paid time off, it covered her eight-week recovery.
Dwight felt better immediately after the transplant, although he was physically weak. Within six weeks, he was back in his pulpit at Parkway Baptist. He says, “Every Sunday morning, I got stronger.” His total recovery time was about two months.
For a pastor who often takes his ministry to hospital patients, he says it was strange being on the other side of the bed. Having learned from his experiences, Dwight counsels people facing surgery or other major treatment to build a relationship with their medical team, dispel frightening unknowns by asking many questions, and line up the supporters in their lives before going into the hospital. Summing it all up, he says, “I simply can’t say enough about the excellent treatment I received at Missouri Baptist.”
Number of views (2332)/Comments (22)
1/7/2019 11:35 AM
Sherry Blankenship is one of "special humans" on this earth. She has been there for so many people, including my family. I wish them the very best and continued healing.
1/7/2019 12:17 PM
Sherry is a warm, caring and inspirational coworker that I will never forget. She made my time at MOBAP more enjoyable whenever we met and chatted. I have moved to another BJC hospital but hope to visit her church soon,
as I promised
1/7/2019 1:16 PM
Very Inspirational story. You can see the hand of God working on the patient...and working through the MBMC Staff. Yes, miracles still happens.
1/8/2019 7:31 AM
This is a very inspirational story. Sherry has prayed with me many times. I will add them both to my daily prayers.
1/8/2019 7:53 AM
This time last year I went through somewhat the same thing with my family member. She had to have heart surgery at BJC. It was very scary and stressful because my family and I never had to experience anything like that before. So I can only imagine how my family member felt. Thank GOD my family member had a WONDERFUL cardiac surgical team that took really good care of her as well as family and friends who were there for the both us! I thank God everyday for ALL of them and here it is a year later and my family member is doing GREAT! A HUGe thank you to Dr Spencer Melby (a name I will never forget) and his WHOLE surgical team!!!!
1/8/2019 2:33 PM
I loved seeing Dwight every week for his labs. I have since transferred to BJC St Peters and will miss seeing him.
1/9/2019 9:54 AM
I have been blessed to work with Sherry at MBMC for over 20 years. She is my spiritual mentor and has become a dear friend. We have often shared heartfelt stories of our families over the years, prayed our sons into manhood and watched them grow into faithful husbands and now fathers. I spoke with her often as she prepared to become an organ donor for her beloved Dwight. Not once did she seem fearful or waiver in her conviction to donate. Sherry was joyful she was chosen. Sherry is a treasure to the MO BAP family in more ways than I could ever explain!
1/9/2019 11:51 AM
I see Sherry all the time walking the halls of MOBAP. You never know what a person has experienced. She always has a smile on her face & always has lots of words of encouragement. I applaud Sherry for being able to provide for her husbands needs. God is truly good and has blessed both of them abundantly. I pray for continued healing.
1/9/2019 1:52 PM
This is such a great story. I really needed to hear it. My brother in law is such a sweet person. He is only in his 40's and he needs a kidney asap. As of now, none of our family has been a match and no one has come forward. Thank you for sharing this story of love and faith. God is good and is always with us. Maybe some of you prayer warriors could do some praying for us. And for this special couple congratulations and long, long, long healthy, happy lives.
1/10/2019 9:06 AM
To know them is to love them
1/12/2019 8:13 AM
Sherry has been by my side through many trials lovesickness divorce in multiple other things she has prayed for me without ceasing and I have prayed for them I love Sherry Blankenship I love her husband I went to his Bible study class years ago and it was the best Bible study class I ever went to they are simply too amazing people God created I love each and every one of them Sherry Blankenship you know you hold a special place in my heart my sissy is now in heaven but she knew you well you never never ever did not ever come to pray with her we knew you would be in there I thank you so much from the bottom of my heart and I am so happy and blessed to hear that you all are doing well thank you for being who you are Sherry your special angel
1/12/2019 10:09 AM
I worked at Mo Bap for one year and six months. I was the hospital operator. Many times I had to page Sherry for a family in need for prayer. Some times it was for a patient transitioning to be with their maker and other times it was for patients having surgery or just ill. Sherry always called me back promptly and always had a smile in her voice. It is a blessing to see that she received this gesture back in the time of need for her husband. It is also wonderful to put a face with a voice! To God be the glory.
1/12/2019 11:04 AM
To know them is to be very blessed.
1/12/2019 12:05 PM
There are certain people who cross your path in life that leave their mark.
We do not live there but visit. These 2 are "genuine" Christians who love the Lord and serve humbly. May they continue to be abundantly blessed.
1/12/2019 12:20 PM
I worked at MBMC 1999-2004. It was a special organization who valued serving their community well.
I had the pleasure of working with Sherry in pastoral care for two years. I am grateful to see that MBMC gave her back some of the love that she so selflessly gives to patients.
What a great story. Thank you for sharing.
1/12/2019 6:13 PM
This is a true love story! The story of a wife wanting to do anything she could possibly do to help her husband. Sherry is one of the most beautiful spirits I’ve ever had the honor of knowing. She is a true angel to everyone that she comes in contact with. She inspires me every time I see her and I love her dearly.
1/12/2019 10:22 PM
Sherry and Pastor Dwight are indeed special, special people. Humble. Loving. Always encouragers and great prayer warriors. We love them greatly and praise our good God for their healing and continued ministries.
1/15/2019 12:17 PM
My husband is in kidney failure, I pray I will be a match when the time comes. God bless you two, this is such a miracle!
1/15/2019 10:44 PM
I’ll just say it - l love Sherry Blankenship. Sherry walks her talk. She is an unfailing inspiration and source of compassion to all she meets. We’ve shared our thoughts, and every time I feel blessed. She is a brilliant mind, and an open heart. She is a gift to each person she meets.
1/16/2019 7:43 PM
I have known this family for several years and love them very much. Dr. Blankenship was my pastor at one time and Sherry my Sunday School teacher. They are both amazing Christians. They have such a strong faith and love for God. So good to see this article about them!
1/18/2019 4:03 PM
Sherry is the best. What an incredible person! You are amazing!
1/21/2019 3:52 PM
Sherry & Dwight - what a love story!