A Perfect Match

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 MoBap’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 MoBap 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. MoBap 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 MoBap community stood with them, too. Sherry says, “Heartfelt prayers came in from every corner.” MOBAP housekeepers, physicians and nurses rallied around them. MoBap president John Antes expressed the hospital’s support. Pastoral care director Alan Runge and MoBap 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.”

Related Heart Content

Find a Doctor or Make an Appointment

Our new search tool will help you choose a doctor or health care provider that is best for you or your family.

Search Now

Palliative Care: Helping Patients Live Their Best Lives

Lynn’s husband Steve was diabetic and diagnosed with end stage renal disease 11 years ago. Without warning, Steve’s condition turned critical three years ago. Desperate for guidance and strength, Lynn was connected to April and the Palliative Care team at Missouri Baptist Medical Center.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Losing More Than Sleep

Everybody suffers occasionally from not getting enough sleep. But a lack of sleep can do more than just make you feel tired the next day. Chronic sleep problems can be a contributing factor to more serious health problems.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Arrhythmia Center

At the Arrhythmia Center at Missouri Baptist Medical Center, we want to help you understand everything there is to know about arrhythmia, especially finding the right treatment just for you. Our goal is to keep you and your heart healthy.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Speaking from the Heart

When Kenneth Amaral visits with cardiology patients at Missouri Baptist Medical Center as part of the Mended Hearts volunteer program, he speaks from first-hand experience.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

A Perfect Match

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.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right
Tina, a MoBap cardiac surgery patient, has always been active and enjoys walking, biking and being outdoors.

Repairing a Broken Heart: A New Diagnosis Helps Heart Pump at Peak Efficiency

Although she had lived with a heart condition her entire life, Tina Lybarger Ledyard knew a few months ago that something just wasn’t right. As a nurse and a stroke network consultant, Tina noticed she was feeling more fatigued than usual. Read more here about her diagnosis and how she has renewed energy after heart surgery.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Synchronizing Heart Care Offers Patient a New Lease on Life

Nathaniel (Nate) Rentz, 63, is alive today thanks to the expertise and coordinated care of medical teams at Progress West Hospital and the advanced cardiac care team at Missouri Baptist Medical Center.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Cardiac Surgeons Discuss Valve Disease and New Treatment Methods

Cardiac surgeons at MoBap talk about valve disease and new treatment methods, including minimally invasive surgery.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement

The transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedure allows a team of cardiologists and cardiac surgeons to insert a new valve inside a diseased valve without open heart surgery. The new valve is put in place through a catheter that is inserted through the groin or between the ribs. 

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right
Dr. Higano continues to follow up care with Ira.

An Alliance to Save Lives by Saving Time

On Dec. 5, 2017, 57-year-old Ira Schalk began to feel nauseous on his job at a lead mining operation near Viburnum, Mo. For days he had felt tired, but thought it might be the flu. It wasn’t.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right
Melissa and Chris post on the sofa with family photos all around.

Early Intervention Makes the Difference

Melissa Ham’s voice is still a little shaky when she recalls being told that her husband, Chris, had about a 1-in-3 chance of surviving the heart attack that occurred at their home on July 13, 2016.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right
Deborah Quesenberry volleys during paddleball.

An Unexpected Diagnosis

When Deborah Quesenberry attended the Missouri Baptist Heart Fair in February 2017, she wasn’t expecting to have a diagnosis of a serious health problem.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Understanding Arrhythmia

We want to help you understand everything there is to know about arrhythmia, why they occur, how they are diagnosed and treated, and what options may be right for you.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Heart LifeLine Alliance

As a leader in heart care, Missouri Baptist Medical Center’s cardiac specialists partner with rural hospitals and medical helicopter and ambulance services to offer the region’s leading heart attack network, saving heart muscle and lives.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Her Heart Health

A woman's heart is different. Many women may not experience chest pain. Their warning signs are non-specific and often easily overlooked. 

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Living (Well) With Congestive Heart Failure

Follow these tips to live a healthier life with congestive heart failure.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Early Heart Attack Care

Did you know that heart attacks have beginnings and these beginning signs occur in more than half of all heart attack patients? Learn the important early signs and symptoms.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Getting Clara to the Beach

Clara Freeman anxiously anticipated attending her oldest granddaughter's beach wedding.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

An Unexpected Journey of the Heart

When it came time for LaTisha (Tish) Smith of Belleville, Ill., to tell her family that she was having surgery, the hardest conversation was with her 9-year-old son, Lee.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Treating Coronary Artery Chronic Total Occlusion

The treatment options at the Missouri Baptist Heart Center continue to advance, and our patients have access to the latest technologies and treatment options. 

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right
Dr. Mauney and team work to improve heart rhythm

Reducing Risk, Improving Rhythm: Treating Atrial Fibrillation

At Missouri Baptist Medical Center cardiac surgeons have treated atrial fibrillation surgically since 2001.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Training for Heart Health

The Arrhythmia Center at Missouri Baptist is at the forefront of technologies that enhance patient lives.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Saving Heart Muscle, Saving Lives

In 2008, cardiologists at Missouri Baptist Medical Center developed the Heart LifeLine Alliance in partnership with rural hospitals, medical helicopter and ambulance services.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Working Together to Treat Heart Failure

At the Missouri Baptist Medical Center Heart Failure Center, we use a team approach to develop an individualized plan of care for you to manage your disease.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right