SCARS

According to Wikipedia, “Scars are areas of fibrous tissue that replace normal skin after injury. Scar tissue is composed of the same protein as the tissue that it replaces, but the fiber composition of the protein is different; instead of a random basket weave formation of the collagen fibers found in normal tissue, in fibrosis the collagen cross-links and forms a pronounced alignment in a single direction. This collagen scar tissue alignment is usually of inferior functional quality to the normal collagen randomized alignment. For example, scars in the skin are less resistant to ultraviolet radiation, and sweat glands and hair follicles do not grow back within scar tissues.”

Scars are usually a sign of a dramatic or traumatic event. They all tell stories and they all build up the older we get. I look at my own scars and I’m reminded of my past. My scars are a private time machine that transports me back to a memory. For good or bad, they are mine and they mean something to me. Recently, I met up with a couple (uncle and niece) with some very meaningful scars.

When you first lay eyes on Travis Clayton, you want to know more. With dreadlocks that reach down his back, a quiet expression and a great smile, you just know there’s a story behind this mysterious looking man.

Yes, there is much more to Travis than just his outward appearance. Travis is hiding something. In fact, most people who know him have no idea what he is hiding; it’s not something Travis shares with many people. Yet, he carries with him a permanent reminder in the form of a scar.

Travis is no stranger to helping others. He has worked in hospice care and currently works as a Learning Behavioral Specialist at Mental Health and Development Center. A short while back, Travis’s 17-year-old niece, April Cossey, was involved in a life-changing car accident. Until then, it wasn’t known that she had a rare disease called Branchio-oto-renal Syndrome. B.O.R. is a genetic disorder that affects 1 in 40,000 people. It causes serious kidney problems and April was in serious need of a kidney transplant. After a battery of testing, it was discovered that Travis was the only family member who was a genetic match. The decision was made that he would undergo surgery to remove one of his kidneys, which would then be transplanted into his niece.

Today when Travis looks at himself in the mirror, he sees the scar and looks upon it as a testament of his love for his niece with whom he has always been very close. And today when April looks at her scar in the mirror, she is reminded of the extraordinary love her uncle has for her.

According to the National Foundation for Transplants, there are eighteen people that die every day waiting for a transplant. One organ donor has the potential to save eight lives and change the lives of more than fifty people. Almost anyone can be an organ donor, regardless of age or medical history. Travis lives daily with the scar that reminds him that sometimes love hurts, in a good way. He wouldn’t trade it for all the tea in China.

The scars remind both uncle and niece of their devotion to one another. Unfortunately, however, about a year after the kidney transplant, April’s body rejected her uncle’s kidney. It had to be removed. Today, she’s back on dialysis, awaiting another gift of life. Her top priority is staying as healthy as possible and being forever grateful to her uncle.

-by Laurie Everett

CLICK HERE TO VIEW DIGITAL EDITION WITH PHOTO SPREAD AND VIDEO. (August 2014 ISSUE)

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