Friday, August 17, 2018

End of Summer

This summer has been full of milestones and surprises.  In spite of the rough patches we experienced, we are so thankful for both the challenges and the blessings this summer held.  We are now approaching the 3-month anniversary of Maliyah's kidney transplant.  This accomplishment is particularly important, as it marks the date Maliyah can begin to go to indoor public areas.  Recently, an antibody test was performed on the kidney-- and there are no signs of rejection whatsoever!  No antibodies are trying to attack the new kidney.  Thank you for all of the prayers and support that were offered during the process of the transplant and during recovery.

Kendra has recovered from the infection in her rod.  This infection happened in mid-June, following a surgery to repair the broken VEPTR (Read this post to learn more). After several days in the hospital, Kendra was able to go home with a PICC line.  This PICC line provided a direct path for antibiotics to travel directly into the outgoing arteries.  Kendra became very skilled in the art of entering antibiotics into her PICC line. The PICC line was removed a few weeks ago, after successful treatment and removal of the infection.

These past couple of weeks, both of us were able to swim together for the first time in over two years.  Maliyah's dialysis catheter had restrictions on swimming to avoid water entering her heart.  As soon as she got her dialysis catheter out, however, Kendra had surgery for her rod and then infection.  The stitches, coupled with the PICC line, made swimming a restriction for Kendra as well.  Since the removal of the PICC line, we have gone swimming together multiple times, and have had lots of fun with friends and family!

Along with the summer coming to an end, school starts next week.  We have made the decision to attend public school this year, rather than continue with online school.  This decision came after much thought and many conversations as a family.  We are nervous to start a new school year, but are thankful for all the adventures this summer has brought.

Check our YouTube Channel for another video this Wednesday!  In the meantime, watch this week's video to see some of the preparations we are making for this new school year.

Thanks for Reading,
Kendra & Maliyah
~The Herrin Twins~

Note: Upcoming Blog Posts will be published on Thursdays

Monday, July 2, 2018

All-New Website

Welcome Back, everyone!
We have a few topics to cover in this blog, but we will start with our big announcement.  Remember our old and outdated Herrin Twins website?  We have now redesigned it with updated information!  Check out and explore the new website.  Our blog is also accessible from the website; along with our videos, social media, and other content.
Maliyah's transplant was over a month ago  and her recovery is going wonderfully. We are infinitely thankful for her donor giving of their own kidney so Maliyah could have renewed energy.  And she certainly does-- Maliyah is able to swim now that she has her catheter out, and rarely feels exhausted like she so often did during the two years we waited on the list.  The thing is, there are thousands of people still on the list-- and millions more who have two working kidneys.  They have what doctors today are calling a "spare". We, Kendra and Maliyah Herrin, urge you to donate your spare.  If you are above 18, you may be eligible to be a living donor.  Visit this site to learn more and save a life!
Kendra is recovering from a successful surgery to remove her infection.  She has learned to put antibiotics into her IV PICC line perfectly.   We are very thankful for the amazing medical care she received, and that we caught the infection on time.  On a different note, Ezra has learned how to crawl very well and pulling himself up to stand!  He is growing up so fast.
Be sure to check out tomorrow's video! (Wednesday is a holiday)
Kendra & Maliyah
~The Herrin Twins~

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Kendra’s ER Visit

   I had back surgery 3 weeks ago to fix my VEPTR/Rod that had broken. On Sunday night I started having back pain and only got 2 hours of sleep. When I woke up (from the 2 hours of sleep) I was in the worst pain. Worse then when I broke my rod. So my mom hurried and got me an X-ray to see if my rod broke again. After we saw the X-ray we knew it wasn’t the problem. 
   So for the rest of the day i was just laying in bed and didn’t really have an appetite. We had a little suspicion that it was an infection but kind of just pushed that theory aside because we didn’t want it to be that. We had taken my temperature and it had been normal until around 8:30 pm yesterday when I got a headache. I don’t usually get headaches so I took my temperature and it was 102.9. So I told my parents and we decided that we didn’t want to risk anything so we went to the ER.
    We got to the ER around 9 and usually when we go to the ER it takes 8+ hours to be admitted but yesterday they were really fast. I was able to be admitted in 5 hours. They drew blood and had to try for an IV twice. We didn’t see any abscess forming until after they did IV antibiotics. And it was huge. I don’t think we would have saw it for a while if we didn’t go into the ER. 
   When I was admitted it was 2am and my mom and I were exhausted. I got little 10 minute naps in the ER but my mom didn’t sleep at all. So when I got to my room my mom helped me out with getting situated into bed then left and got home around 3:30am. Now the most recent update is that they are going to have to operate to clean it out. I am actually glad because we caught it on time because it could be so much worse. Wish me luck!

Monday, June 11, 2018

Post Surgeries Update + Birthdays

Jake after his surgery

   It has been a little hectic for the Herrin family for the past few weeks. First update about Jake, he is doing great. He went back to work two weeks after his surgery. He is no longer in pain but he doesn't have a lot of energy and isn't able or allowed to lift heavy things. He has still been a huge help even though he can't do a lot.

Kendra at girls camp

   Next up is Kendra, her rod broke on the 21st of May. She had surgery to get it fixed on the 29th. That went really well because a week and half later she went to their church girls camp for a few days. She had lots of fun and wasn't in very much pain. She was able to stay the entire time.


Maliyah after getting her dialysis catheter out
   Maliyah's update is pretty long because she has the most healing to do. Last week on Sunday Maliyah came home. She was glad to be home even though she had a giant tube coming out of her bladder that was causing her pain. She really hates the hospital so she would rather be on an uncomfortable couch then be in that depressing place. On Wednesday she went back to the hospital with stomach pain and ended up staying the night so that they could make her feel better. She was having a really hard time with just being there. After being there so long it makes her feel like she will never leave, even if she knows it's only for the night. After she got home she was okay. She had her next appointment today (June 11th) where she got her dialysis catheter and foley out. She is really excited to start swimming and taking baths again!

On Sunday It was Justin and Austin's lucky 13th birthday. We ate cake yesterday and went to IHOP (Or should i say IHOB? ;) ) today.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Maliyah's Kidney Transplant

Before Transplant

Several weeks ago, we announced Maliyah was officially having a kidney transplant.  Though it has kept many of you in suspense, we are very happy to announce the kidney transplant has not only happened already, but that it went far better than we could have ever expected!

To preface, this kidney transplant holds particular importance because surgeons knew it would be Maliyah's last one-- only two kidneys can fit in a person's body, and this transplant would fill the last available spot.  In other words, this was Maliyah's last chance.  A kidney failure now would leave no other option-- you can imagine everybody's yearning that everything would go well.  Additionally, the length of the surgery would probably require Maliyah to have a breathing tube afterwards, a situation that makes recovery uncomfortable and speaking impossible.

Maliyah was admitted to the hospital the night before the surgery (May 23rd) so she could be monitored and started on important medicines.  Our friend Anabelle and her sister, Katelyn, came up to Primary Children's so Katelyn could braid Maliyah's hair.  That night, our Grandpa came up and stayed with Maliyah overnight.

Before Transplant
In the morning, Mom got a little anxious and accidentally left Kendra at the house since she was in such a rush to comfort Maliyah before surgery.  (Don't worry, Kendra got a ride from Grandma later)  Our friend Anabelle, our mom's parents, and our dad's mom all came up in the morning before the surgery.  Anabelle and Kendra stayed all day while Maliyah was in surgery.  The surgery was originally scheduled to start about 9 am and to end around 9 pm.  Before then, everybody talked quietly in Maliyah's hospital room and prayed for everything to go well.

Promptly on schedule, Maliyah was wheeled back for surgery around 8:20 am on May 24th.  Saying goodbye to Maliyah before surgery was difficult for everybody, and everyone cried.  We knew the surgeons would do well, though.  After that, everybody except Maliyah went to the waiting room expecting news.

At 9:20, surgeons made the first incision.  Around this same time, Anabelle and Kendra went to orthopaedics for Kendra's appointment.  Kendra's back had been bothering her since the beginning of the week, and she needed an X-ray.  The X-ray revealed Kendra had broken the rod in her back, though not too severely.  She goes in for surgery next week.

While Anabelle and Kendra were scheduling her surgery and picking up medicine from the pharmacy, everybody else received the news that the kidney was just walked over from the donor, and the arteries and veins all looked perfect for Maliyah.  Soon after, at eleven in the morning, everybody received the astonishing and absolutely wonderful news that surgeons were able to remove Maliyah's old transplant and reconnect the new kidney in the same place.  This means Maliyah has another chance-- that there was no ultimatum or shortage of options for the future.  The fact they were able to reconnect it in the same place was a genuine miracle.  Our grandparents left the hospital around this time.

Maliyah Recovering
Further, at 1 pm, surgeons announced the surgery was going much more quickly than originally estimated, and that Maliyah would not need a breathing tube.  Following that news, everybody found out Maliyah's intestines were scarred together in a way that made it so they would "wake up" more quickly after the surgery.  She would not have to go for quite so long without eating and drinking.  One of the main surgeons, Dr. Cartwright, drew a diagram for everybody of the surgery up until that point.

At 4:30, surgeons informed everyone the surgery could not have gone better, and that it would only be about 10 minutes before they started to close her up, an hour before she was out of the operating room, and two hours until she was awake and able to see everybody.  At 5:48, she was officially closed up, and at 6:20 we received the surprising call that Maliyah was already wide awake and even asking for everybody to come see her.  Everybody quite literally ran to the recovery room, where Maliyah was in a lot of pain, but okay.

Yesterday, Friday, was a difficult day for Maliyah in terms of pain.  Although recovery will be long, we are so thankful for the opportunities this new kidney will give Maliyah.  She will be able to have the foods she missed (particularly chocolate milk), have an extra 9-12 hours every week without dialysis, and even be able to swim again!  Thank you all for your support on this journey with us.

Kendra & Maliyah
~The Herrin Twins~

Tuesday, April 10, 2018


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.
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~