#savstrong liver transplant
This fund raising effort is to help offset the medical bills, lifelong medications, travel expenses and living expenses that are ocurring in order to get Savannah a liver transplant. I am Renee, her mother and here is her story.
Savannah L. Rennie born 12/18/1996 in San Diego California. She grew up idolizing her brother, Luc and doing everything he did. Luc is a very athletic child so Savannah grew up playing soccer, basketball, hockey, (ice & street) & baseball. No - not softball- Baseball on a competitive team -The Powerhouse Baseball Club & Del Mar Littele League. She played baseball with the same group of boys from the time she was 6 years old until she was 13. During this time she became very well known not only because she was VERY good, but because she was a GIRL excelling in a boys sport. She was a pitcher & catcher as well as other positions. This is important to know about her because it made her a very strong person. She would never, ever cry even when the other team would throw piches at her and hit her at the plate. Savannah became one of the most fiercest competitiors in southern california in every sport she played. During her baseball career she hit many milestones and "firsts"- I am sure some of her coaches and teamates can post some of these to view.
Moving on - when she was 11 a girl she played soccer with invited Savannah to come "for fun" and try out for a volleyball team, as Savannah was a very tall girl. In fact she towered over all her baseball teammates! Savannah had NEVER played volleyball before, not even on the beach, but she never turned down a challenge. About 30 minutes into the tryout we were approached by one of the coaches who apparently saw potential-he told us they wanted her play on the "competitive travel team". We had no idea what that would entail, but Savannah wanted to do it, so we said yes. She played both baseball & volleyball for the next 2 years- however volleyball was quickly becoming a sport she loved as much as baseball and it helped that she was playing with other girls-( not to many girls play high school baseball)
She focused on indoor volleyball and became a force to be reckoned with. Playing any position asked of her for the competitive teams- Wave as well as her Torrey Pines High School Team and USA Volleyball. She earned a reputation as one of toughest competitiors in the country as well as one of the hardest working. She received many accolades during this time and was recruited by some of the top Volleyball Universities in the country. Savannah decided she would like to be a University of California - Berkeley Golden Bear. She commited to Cal and graduated early from High School and started an entire semester early at Cal to help get prepared for the Fall 2015 season!
Savannah Woke up June 4th 2015 like any ordinary day, Working out at Jackson Strength, she was able to practice with the Wave 18's team's that night- which was a plus. She began not feeling very good at about 11pm, headache, nauseated, body pain, fever. From there she became worse, eventually the next day with a fever of 105.0. I took her to her Primary care Dr who said she probably had the flu. Fast forward --over the next 8 days- we took her to the Urgent care 4 additional times with no answers from all the tests that they were running and imaging they did. On the last trip June 13- with an enlarged Spleen & Liver they admitted her to the hospital. After numerous liver biopsy's, MRI, MRCP's ERCP's A liver Stent, more hospitalizations from June to September, her Heptologist was finally able to nail down a diagnosis.
During all these months, waiting to be diagnosed Savannah continued to go to classes and Volleyball practice - giving suport to her teammates. September 17th 2015 Savannah was diagnosised with Congential Hepatic Fibrosis with Portal Hypertension.
This a congenital ( meaning both Bill & I have the recessive gene and passed them both to Savannah) This is a rare finding, but what makes Savannahs case even more rare is this disease usually presents itself at birth or when you become much older (70-80's.) It is most certainaly NOT seen in a healthy 18-19 year old. Savannah has failed all the apptempt to manage the disease with medication and continues to be hospitalized with Cholangitits and sepsis (which is what happens from having this disease) . The only thing to do now is to get her a new liver.
We need to get this GoFundMe campaigne started because while in Indianapolis at the IU Health Transplant department - Savannah was getting her evaluation to be listed for a new liver, She became sick again with Cholangitis and has been hospitalized again. We had to change our flights, add to the car rental and hotel. We will be able to get a new Liver for Savannah sooner in Indiana than on the west coast. Once she is listed we will need to live in Indianapolis until the organ becomes availble as well as after for 3 months for follow up. I being her main care giver will have to take a leave of absence from my job, which means I will not be recieveing my salary.
Savannah has touched so many people in her very short 19 years on this earth and this has completely blindsided her. It has completely changed her life as one could imagine. With her New liver Savannah will be able to be that same person she was before becoming sick, only better! This new Savannah will be living because someone gave her the gift of life.
Savannah has learned a lesson that most people may never learn, that is to be thankful for the little things in life and never take the simplest things for granted.
She will be able to train hard, play volleyball and have a full long life, including having children! She could well be the first woman in the USA to play Womans Collegate D1, volleyball as a Liver Transplant recipient. She would like to bring awareness to this very RARE disease and help with raising money for research in this field. Savannah will strive to be a MODEL Liver transplant recipient and help to bring awareness to the importance of being a Donor and giving the gift of life.
After recovering from her surgery in July to remove the fast growing mass, she underwent 4 infusions of antibodies in the hopes to take care of the cancer, only 50% was gone. Savannah started Chemo and had 4 rounds the last one being 12/04/17. Then we waited and she underwent a PET SCAN to see if the cancer was gone.
Yesterday, 01/04/2018 Savannah received the best news we have had in a long time...... She kicked cancers butt and is in COMPLETE REMISSION!!!!!!!
I have no words to describe the feeling as her mom that overwhelmed me.... Savannah has in usual from went to practice and class the entire time never wavering in her courage and desire to act like a normal college student athlete.
Our family would like to thank everyone who has cheered her on since her Liver Transplant as well as her supported her during this past 6 months.
We all are looking forward to seeing Savannah back at Haas Arena wearing the Cal Blue & Gold, playing the sport she loves!
Cheers to 2018 and thank for all of your support!
So ..here it goes. August 6th Bill & I took Savannah to Berkeley to start her Fall Semester 2016. Keep in mind her Transplant was May 17th--so 3 months.
Actually that is very UNUSUAL, most recipients are still back at IU transplant being monitored.
She was given a full physical again by the UC-Berkeley Team Physicians and was given the go ahead to practice, just like all the other players on the team!
Savannah was ecstatic and attacked her work outs and practice in the same manor she attacked getting over her disease.
October 7th Cal was playing Utah at Cal and Bill, Luc and I were all there, we were told she maybe in the future going to put into a game to play, which one we were not sure. It was the last game and Cal was down, I looked over at a friend and said, " I wonder how Coach Feller is going to decide when & where he wants Savannah to go in?" A few minutes went by and the next thing I know I here Coach yell, "Savannah, your in!"
At first she did not hear him, but her teammates were pumping her up and pushing to the substitution line. There it was ----she was playing in her first Collegiate game 10/07/16! Words could not describe my joy and happiness, I think I was crying too!
Savannah was in as a middle and she loves run a play called a slide, she really does it quite well. Her first slide was amazing and I still DO NOT KNOW how that Utah player dug it up, but she did. That just made Savannah even more determined to hit a slide and her setter, gave her another slide set and Savannah hit it deep, down the line corner and very hard!
So there you have it!! She did it and it was as glorious as I had always prayed it would be for her. The crowd clapped extra long and I cried extra hard. Her teammates were crying - and Savannah at first looked like she might shed a tear, but you all know my daughter - she does not show tears to easily ,as she choked them back.
After the match the PAC-12 announcers interviewed her, you can goggle it if you have not seen it. At the end- Savannah was looking for me, I had made my way closer to her, and when she saw me ---she walked right over to me and I wrapped my arms around my daughter and we buried our heads into each others arms and just reveled in the moment. It was a very long embrace, but we had a lot to embrace about. I told her, "I love you, I am so proud of you and you are the strongest person I know." With that we wiped our tears and off to the locker room she went-just like all the other players do, something Savannah had been dreaming about for 15 long months.
Savannah has been very healthy and been taking very good care of herself and her new Liver Finn. Our family could not be prouder of her.
Just a warning for all the teams they play next year, watch out because she is back and stronger then ever and hungrier than ever to play some amazing volleyball!
Last but not least, Savannah & our family would like to say Thank you to everyone who has donating and helped us during this very difficult time. We could not have done what we did with out and you all will always be in our prayers and thoughts. Many thanks and a lot of gratitude to all of you, and lets hope and pray for a healthy 2017!
Renee, Savannah, Luc, Bill and of course Fergie Pup
Last week our visit with Dr. Frenette went amazingly well. She was given the go ahead to get back to her "normal". Meaning practice, and lifting with caution. Savannah is well aware that a setback could be very lengthy if she does not take it slow. So with the Coaches and trainers at Cal she will start her journey back to playing Volleyball.
AMAZING that only 2 and 1/2 months ago she had the life saving liver transplant and I am talking about her starting to practice. Our family will never be able to Thank the Liver Transplant team at Indiana University enough. Their excellence in Medicine will never be forgotten, along with all the other supportive people in Indianapolis.
I hope everyone was able to view the homecoming that Savannah received from her coaches and teammates on Facebook. Savannah was brought to tears from the homecoming celebration. I can not find words to describe how I feel about her teammates and coaches, they all are amazing people and we are so blessed to have them in our lives.
So now that I am home and trying to get back to a new "normal" for myself, I have to say that yes I am missing my daughter. There is no way a mother can spend 5 months with her daughter in such close proximity and not miss her desperately. While I know Savannah has not looked back since hitting campus, I know she will every once in a while miss me and my mom-isms!
So its off to a new life for both of us. Please follow Savannah's progress on the UC- Berkeley Woman Volleyball website as well as Cal Sports website.
I anxiously await the day that she will be on the Volleyball Court again, cheering her and the team on.
I will never be able to say Thank you enough to everyone who has participated in Savannah's journey. Our family is very grateful and humbled by all the support we have received. Everyone's kindness has allowed Savannah a new chance at life - a healthy life. We as a family will always keep in mind that our daughter's fortune came at the expense of her donor family's misfortune. We will always keep their family in our hearts and minds, and will pray for their peace in the loss of their daughter.
There is no greater sign of love then to donate life after death. My Savannah has been blessed with this amazing gift of life.
I will always be posting on FB updates as we navigate the unknown - so please follow me on my FB page, Renee Giroux-Rennie.
I would like to sign off as I have always done -- From Indy with Love......but I am not in Indy so here goes......
From our hearts with love .........Renee & Savannah.
So here I sit at Indianapolis International Airport after having to say good-bye to her at the curb. I am going to Maryland to visit my mom & sister and Sav and her dad are driving back to San Diego with Fergie!
I am not gonna lie, I feel weird. I feel like I am missing something, or better yet someone! For the last 141 days I have been by Savannah's side, now she is not here. I feel sad and a bit jittery, I can't believe this day has come. She has surpassed all expectations for this Disease that she no longer has! Thanks to her donor. I feel a bit like I am still in that dream, that started back June 4th 2015.
I miss my girl already, my better half, my movie partner, my dinner companion, my roommate, my shopping buddy my beautiful daughter, Savannah.
She is amazing and I can not find any other words to describe her. Good thing I see her in 4 days!! This is a good rehearsal for when I bring her to Berkeley and really say good-bye to her. I am not really looking forward to those emotions....at all.
Prayers please - one more time for a safe trip back to San Diego for Savannah & Bill. I will update everyone when the "eagle has landed in Berkeley".
Until then........with Love from Indy..for the last time!
Renee & Savannah
I had no idea this was going on!! Savannah was one of my students in 8th grade at EWMS, I was her Spanish teacher. I was always so impressed by her confident and strong attitude! Gosh my thoughts and prayers go out to you Savannah, Profe is thinking of you!!!
I hope this is not wildly inappropriate as we don't know each other, but we recently moved to Indy and I'd be happy to bring you a meal or visit with your daughter so you can have a break. I'm a volleyball referee and my dad was a long time college coach so I have a special place in my heart for volleyball families. Just say what you need as I'm not that far from the hospital. Sending blessings your way. Holly Luenemann
Get well Savanah. I am also suffering from end stage liver disease. I need a liver transplant too. I used to work with so many middle & high school students during my career as a mentor, teacher, & counselor. I miss it. But I plan in returning back to helping low income, first generation students who have the desire to go to college when I get well.. Good luck with your new liver & live long & prosperous young one... :)
Savannah, I am just learning of this for the first time. Know that we are with you in heart and soul. I am praying for you and your doctors and trusting that the perfect organ donor be available to you in the perfect way and timing. The Hodson Family is for you. We love you. xoxoxo Sonya, Jim, Hayley and Jonathan
Its incredible to read about Savannahs progress , I have been following her journey for a while. I am a mother of a volleyball player who has own her struggle. You are a strong warrior mom and Savannah is an amazing strong young woman. Happy New Year andGO Savannah.
It was great watching Sav play this year - especially that first kill! Not a dry eye at Haas that night!
Hallelujah!! God is great, Med team is great! Savannah is great!
It is always a gift to the giver to give when there is really a need. Helps us to express compassion which is our true nature. Thank you Savannah, thank you Renee! BTW, she looks just great.! Very gratifying to see that. Be well now Savannah. John S., Class of '73
We are so happy Savannah is healthy and looking forward to heading back to school. She has amazing strength.
What JOY and GRATITUDE for Savannah's recovery! Continuing to cheer for you, Savannah.
Savannah..you are beautiful and courageous.. You have been in my prayers and to know you are progressing so well and quickly is inspiring. Way to go Girl !! Saw your Dad at Jodi and Pat's this past weekend. His face beamed when he spoke of what an amazing daughter he has. Keep the faith. You will get to where you need to be. Love, Joan B
So happy to hear the good news for you both - thank you for keeping updates coming!!!! Renee hope your back feels better soon - you both look great ♥ lots of love and hugs - Lora (and Tia xoxoxox)
Renee and Savannah, I'm a Cal volleyball alum living in Palo Alto. I had a nice chat with Savannah at the volleyball awards banquet in early 2015, shortly after she started her studies in Berkeley. I just wanted to offer my hospitality when you're going to Stanford for checkups. I live a couple of miles from the medical center (and had both of my babies there, of course wearing Cal t-shirts!). Hearing of Savannah's awesome progress is so uplifting. Keep it up, Sav! -- Teri Wilkinson Carey, Cal '77, Volleyball '75-77.
Thank you for the updates. Both of you are an inspiration for all of us. I hope to see Savannah at Cal in the near future! PS. Eleven years ago my sister needed a kidney transplant. My daughter volunteered and was a near perfect match. They are both thriving now. Your comments have brought back many powerful emotions.
I love all the great news!!!! Thank you Renee and Go Savannah!!! much love to you all and can't wait to see you back in CA ♥
We are praying for your whole family every day. Thank you for your beautiful updates about Savannah and her miraculous medical procedures. It's so good to know you are all in such good hands, and how amazing that she made it to the top of the list so quickly. You are all so strong and her story is so inspiring. The San Diego volleyball community is rooting for her every step of her journey back to the court! Can't wait to see that day as well. In the meantime, we'll be thinking about her and praying God keeps her on her path to recovery! With love the Wilhite Family