Tuesday, April 10, 2018

THE BIG NEWS!

Yes, it's official.  Maliyah is receiving a kidney this summer!  This journey began on February 26, 2002, when we were born conjoined and sharing one kidney. Thankfully, our mom (Erin) was able to donate her kidney to Maliyah when Kendra got the shared one at separation.

But as many of you know, Maliyah's road to complete recovery hasn't been quite as simple as that first transplant.  For several years, our mom's kidney did well.  Slowly, the lab results started to look less promising.  It was determined the kidney was in T-Cell Rejection.  The initial treatments didn't work, but finally a treatment known as IVIG allowed gradual improvement.  Soon after, in March of 2016, Maliyah had a heart surgery which did not go as planned, puncturing her heart.

The stress on the rest of her body as her heart struggled led to complete kidney failure.  Two years of waiting on the kidney registry and repetitious dialysis treatments have followed.  For two years, our family has waited for Maliyah's kidney.

On April 2, just last Monday, we received the news.  Maliyah is getting her kidney this summer*, and we could not be more thrilled.

There are thousands more on the registry for an organ donation though, and many of them have not yet received a donor.  Maliyah's kidney will change our lives so much-- you, too, are capable of making this kind of change in somebody else's life.  Organ donation influences so much more than the person who is receiving the actual transplant.  Because somebody decided to give, Maliyah has been given the gift of life and energy, and each of our family members and friends are forever thankful.

"I feel like I will be free," Maliyah said after receiving the news.  "I will be able to be with my friends and family without dialysis being in the way.  I will get to swim, and I'll have more energy!"

Thank all of you for your support during our journey over the last two years and also during the last sixteen years.  Our hearts are full as we share this news with you, our biggest cheerleaders.  Here's to this triumph, and to many more to come!

As always, we hope you will continue to stick with us over the next few months as we tell our story.
Love,
Kendra & Maliyah
~The Herrin Twins~


 *We do not want to be contacted by news stations or other organizations regarding this topic.  We would like to maintain the privacy of the donor throughout this process.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Spring Break + BIG NEWS

Spring break was this past week!  We had so much fun together this week, and received some AMAZING news (see bottom of post).  

Fish at the Aquarium
Maliyah's Manicure
We went to an interactive aquarium as part of our break.  Maliyah even had a fish manicure there, where garra rufa fish smooth out a person's hands.  We got to feed exotic tropical birds as we sat in their enclosure, feed stingrays, and look at dozens of incredible marine species.  It was definitely one of the highlights of the break!

We also went to the recreation center with a couple of our friends and swam in the pool.  We used diving flippers to swim extra fast and raced on a floating obstacle course, then relaxed in the hot tub for a while.  Later, we dried off and ate a few snacks.

Feeding Birds at the Aquarium
At the beginning of the week, we got a bit of a scare when one of our best friends, Anabelle, was in a rollover car accident.  We are so thankful she and her family are all okay.  (See pictures below)
We went to dialysis with Anabelle on Friday, which was fun!  We played a few board games and built an elaborate castle with kinetic sand while we were there.  Our family went to the temple and did service a few hours later, which was a really rewarding and fulfilling experience.  Helping others is always a great way to feel happy!

On Friday night, we went to IHOP for dinner.  Later that night, two of Courtney's friends came over with their babies.  All three babies were under 4.5 months old-- we were in heaven with all the adorable babies! 

THE BIG ANNOUNCEMENT will be released tomorrow at 4 pm (Mountain Time Zone) on this blog.  Be sure to watch for it!  We are beyond thrilled to share this news with you!
Until Tomorrow,
Kendra & Maliyah
~The Herrin Twins~

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Frequent Surgery

We have each had around 100 surgeries in our lifetime.  This past Tuesday, Maliyah just had her biannual back surgery (Click here for a back surgery recap from 18 months ago).  Since our separation, we have both had them every six months, but Kendra probably won't have to have another one unless something goes wrong with her VEPTR (Vertical Expandable Prosthetic Titanium Rib, a titanium rod that runs the length of our spines).
For us, surgery isn't everyday, but it is a routine which influences our overall lifestyle.  We want to share with you our experience with surgery and answer any questions you might have.
Kendra Before Surgery
Frequency: To preface, we usually have surgery about once every sixth months, but sometimes we need it more often for different things.  The reason behind our repeating surgeries is that our bodies need a little more help since they aren't like everybody else's.
What is frequent surgery like: We have had surgery often, but it is still exhausting every time.  Of course, pain is to be expected, but it is hard to remember how bad the pain truly is.  It can be difficult to get a good night's rest after surgery because the pain wakes us up.
Leading up to Surgery: Neither of us look forward to surgery.  One of Kendra's biggest fears is not waking up from surgery.  For both of us, the pain is something to dread.
Hospital Staff: The Hospital Staff is amazing and always takes great care of us.  A question that we have been asked is if everybody knows who we are when we walk into the hospital.  Surprisingly, not many know us well.  That being said, a few have had us as patients throughout the years and are able to recognize us quickly.
After Surgery: For larger surgeries, we stay at the hospital for a few days to a week.  For VEPTR expansions, we usually go home the same day unless the entire VEPTR is changed.  If that's the case, we usually only stay overnight.
Recovery Time: There is a pretty significant difference in our recovery times.  For Maliyah, it only takes about a week to a week and a half, even with a larger surgery.  For Kendra, feeling fully better can take anywhere between three weeks to a couple months.  This, of course, is because we are different people with unique preferences and pain tolerance.
Recovery Quality: Again, our experiences differ when it comes to how difficult surgery and recovery is for us.  For Maliyah, it has become easier as time has gone on.  For Kendra, the repetition and long recoveries have been difficult.  When she was little, just two weeks after separation she was jumping on the bed, but now it isn't easy just to get out of bed two weeks after surgery.

Maliyah After Surgery
We hope this post helped you understand more about our experiences and what frequent surgery is like.  If you or a family member happens to be going into a surgery within the next few weeks, don't worry too much!  It definitely isn't easy, and recovery can be gradual, but it is absolutely possible.  Ask any questions we missed by commenting here or on Facebook. 
Watch out tomorrow for a video featuring Kendra, pastry chef to be, decorating a cake!
Thanks for Reading,
Kendra & Maliyah
~The Herrin Twins~








Monday, March 12, 2018

Disneyland Magic!


We haven't been on a family vacation in over two years.  But this past week, we had the chance to visit Disneyland!

Dad, Courtney, Kendra, Austin, Justin, and Ezra went in the car all the way to California, while Maliyah and Mom flew down after dialysis last Friday morning.  Saturday, when we had recovered from our trip there, we visited the nearest mall and ate at Buffalo Wild Wings.  Austin ate ghost pepper hot sauce while we were there!

Walt Disney's Star
The next day, we went to Los Angeles and visited Griffith's observatory.  There, we took pictures and looked through a truly enormous telescope.  Later in the afternoon, we walked on Sunset Boulevard and saw Walt Disney's star.  Since the Oscars were going on that day, the rest of the street was closed.  On our way back, we stopped to see the Menendez brothers' house, which is the spooky site of a murder in the 1980s. 
On Monday, Maliyah had to go to dialysis in the morning.  While she did that, everybody had the chance to swim in the pool.  Later that day, we all got ready for Disneyland by visiting downtown Disney and getting Mickey ears and t-shirts.  Later that night, we went to the pool with Ezra.  It was his first time in a pool, and he absolutely loved it!
Maliyah Ready for Disney!
Kendra with Minnie Ears!
On Tuesday, we arrived in Disneyland.  That day was full of bad luck, but was still fun.  On the bright side, we rode all of the rides and stuffed ourselves with food.  Maliyah's favorite ride from the whole trip was Monsters, Inc. in Disneyland.  Mixed in with the happiness of the day, though, were a few rough spots.  When we went on the Indiana Jones ride in the morning, the bouncing and bumpiness of the ride led Maliyah to bruise her chin and bump her chest.  As we were walking out of the park later, Maliyah ran over Courtney's foot with her scooter and it wouldn't stop bleeding.  When we finally got Courtney and everybody else to the car, it wouldn't start and park security had to jump it.  We found out later we need an entirely new battery.
Ezra bonding with Sulley
When we tried to start the car the next day, the radiator started to steam, but luckily we made it to Disney California Adventure.  Kendra's favorite ride was Radiator Spring Racers.  We went with Justin and Ezra to meet Sulley from Monsters, Inc. while everybody else was waiting for a ride we didn't want to go on.  Ezra loved Sulley's fluffy, soft fur.
Maliyah, Justin, and Ezra with Sulley
Thursday, we swam all day and had pizza for dinner.  We visited a small island on Friday, got ice cream, and walked along the beach.  Saturday, we went to the mall and got some souvenirs for a few of our relatives.  We also spent some time just browsing through stores.  On Sunday, we all squeezed into the car for the long drive home.
Even though we didn't have any videos or blog posts this past week, be sure to look out for a new video on Wednesday on our channel and a new blog post next week!  Feel free to ask us any questions or leave comments below.
Thanks for all your support,
Kendra & Maliyah
~The Herrin Twins~

Monday, February 26, 2018

SWEET 16!

Today is our sixteenth birthday! 

Sixteen is a huge milestone.  Starting today, we can officially date and legally drive!  We are so thankful for these amazing sixteen years.  They've been positively full of miracles and of incredible people.  

Today, we aren't doing anything huge to celebrate-- just having cake.  On Saturday, our friend Anabelle had her birthday and we stayed up until midnight watching movies together to celebrate both of our birthdays.  Our big present is DISNEYLAND! We will keep you updated on our adventures!
We haven't been on any vacations for a couple of years, so this will be exciting!  Maliyah, our mom, and Ezra are flying down after dialysis the day we leave. Everybody else is making the long road trip down to California-- wish us luck!
Sidenote: Kendra dyed her hair purple! Let us know what you think.
Keep an eye out for Wednesday's video!

Love,
Kendra & Maliyah
~The Herrin Twins~

Monday, February 19, 2018

Contact Us!

Today's blog post is a little unique-- we want to reach out to our readers!  We want to know what you are interested in.  Message us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or comment here on Blogger!
Tell us about you, and let us know what you want to see, both in our videos and in our blog posts.
We hope everybody had a fantastic President's Day here in the US!  For those of you who are international, we hope you had a phenomenal day despite still having work and school.
Love,
Kendra & Maliyah
~The Herrin Twins~

Monday, February 12, 2018

ORGAN DONATION

We hope you are all having a fantastic day!  Today, we want to talk about what organ donation means to us.

Maliyah prior to kidney transplant

As many of you know, we both have a very personal experience with organ donation.  When we were conjoined, we shared one kidney, meaning only one of us would get the kidney when we were separated.  Kendra got the kidney, so Maliyah had to have a kidney transplant.

Clearly, organ donation means an infinite amount to both of us.  Without it, Maliyah wouldn't be able to survive, and we may have made the decision not to get separated, meaning likely would have both run into severe problems due to dependence on just one kidney.

But becoming an organ donor is such a long process, right?  It takes too long, and nobody has the kind of time to sign up for that.  It's easier than you think, and there is more than one way to sign up:
1. Go to your local DMV and check "yes" on organ donation
2. Better yet, visit https://registerme.org/ and sign up within seconds

It's really that simple!  Organ donation is indescribably important-- in the United States alone, there are over 115 thousand people in need of a lifesaving transplant, and millions more around the world. One organ donor can save EIGHT lives.  So what are you waiting for?  Sign up now!
To learn more about organ donation, click here.

March is national kidney disease month!  Show support by putting green ribbons around your house or yard, and don't forget to send us a picture by messaging us on facebook, we will respond and feature them in an upcoming video.  Those of you out of the country, don't hesitate to join in and make this an international celebration of awareness!

Thanks for reading, and don't forget to spread the word about organ donation and national kidney disease month!  Leave comments and questions for us below.

Love,
Kendra & Maliyah
~The Herrin Twins~