No power tools will be necessary, thank you. The Rev. Ryan Shoaff already has received his Christmas gift: A kidney from a colleague in the cloth, the Rev. Doug Modlin.
No power tools will be necessary, thank you. The Rev. Ryan Shoaff already has received his Christmas gift: A kidney from a colleague in the cloth, the Rev. Doug Modlin. A youth pastor at Perry Christian Church at 139 Perry Dr. NW, Shoaff, 31, is recovering from the transplant, which was performed in August. He and Modlin, a children’s pastor, met three years ago when Shoaff joined the staff at Perry Christian. “You don’t think you’re worthy that someone is willing to possibly shorten their life to save yours,” Shoaff said. “I feel lucky and blessed.” Some years prior, Shoaff was diagnosed with IgA Nephropathy, or Berger’s disease, the result of a virus which attacked his kidneys’ filtering agents. “Mine (disease) stayed dormant for 14 years, but it came back with a vengeance, and fast,” he said. By October 2006, he was facing the likelihood of dialysis. Good Match “I thought about getting tested,” Modlin said, “But I heard his father and brother were getting tested, so I just let it drop.” But Shoaff’s father and younger brother were unable to donate a kidney. In May, tests revealed that Modlin, 37, was a good match. Both have O-positive blood. “I talked to my wife and told her that I just felt God put in my heart that I need to get tested,” said Modlin, whose wife, Sarah, is a preschool administrator at Perry Christian. “She said she was fine with it.” Modlin, who teases Shoaff about being his “clone,” is convinced it was destiny. In the months leading up to the transplant, he lost 60 pounds. “I just wanted to get healthier,” Modlin explained. “There’s no way I would have qualified, had I not lost that weight. ... God put me in the spot. He prepared me for it. He just does it. Don’t ask me how.” The surgery took place in Akron City Hospital on Aug. 21. The quick-witted Modlin confesses, “I have a morbid sense of humor. I told him, ‘If I die on the table, you can have both.’ My wife didn’t think that was very funny.” Though Modlin recovered quickly, Shoaff has hit some detours. He contracted peritonitis and pneumonia, and still suffers from a condition which causes a rapid heartbeat. “I lost 45 pounds of muscle,” he said. “From Aug. 24 to Oct. 6 or 7, I don’t remember anything. I’m healing, finally.” Shoaff, who returned to full-time ministry two weeks ago, credits his wife, Shelley, and his faith. He also cites his wife for keeping their family together. The couple has three children younger than 5. “I can think of two or three times when I’d just had enough,” he said. “I would have not been able to get through it, had I not been a Christian; had we not had our faith.” A ‘God Thing’ Both Modlin and Shoaff say the church has offered unqualified support. “The congregation really put its best foot forward,” Modlin said. “When he was in the hospital, the congregation tried to do whatever they could to make it easier for Shelley. They sent us cards and made us food. Those little things are ‘uplifters.’” Shoaff said ultrasounds show there’s no blood flow to the kidney, so doctors can’t confirm that it’s functioning. “They say that sometimes, it takes a few weeks or months for the kidney to ‘wake up.’ To me, it’s totally a ‘God thing,’” he said. “The doctors can’t prove it’s working, but I’m getting healthier.” Shoaff urges others to consider organ donation, saying, “You have no idea how many lives you could affect.” “If I had three kidneys,” Modlin said, “I’d pull that one out, too.” Canton Repository