Faith led family to distant church and miracle

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. - This Easter a Poplar Bluff family is celebrating an amazing story of faith overcoming adversity.

Grady and Amanda Deaton's young son was facing an incurable disease, then they say God led them to a life-saving organ donation through a series of incredible events.

Matt Deaton, who in 2005 at the age of five, was diagnosed with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, a disease that prevents the kidneys from filtering protein, and for which there is no known cause or cure.

The disease caused Matt's body to retain fluid, causing abnormal swelling in his eyes and stomach and throughout his body. For the next 12 years the young man coped with the debilitating illness with medications and treatment, experiencing multiple periods of relapse and remission.

"What it does over time is cause damage to the kidney. Each case is its own, as far as progression goes. His progressed a lot faster than they thought it would. Once the kidney is damaged there is no coming back," said Grady.

Sadly, in September 2015, Matthew went into relapse and would not go into remission again. Doctors told the family to expect five years until total kidney failure. Matthew began vomiting daily and following more tests a catheter was surgically inserted and daily dialysis became the routine.

"It's really like ripping your heart out of your chest," said Grady. "We thought we braced ourselves for years that we were going to go down this road eventually, but when it actually happened we weren't ready for it."

"It was the worst pain I had ever felt in my life," he said.

Matt's family at one point in April 2016 thought they had lost him. His only hope was to have a kidney transplant.

"This disease is so devastating that a few years ago even with a transplant the likelihood of re-occurrence was 30-40 percent. It's going to come back and it's going to attack the new kidney, so you either keep doing transplants or you do dialysis until it fails," Grady said.

"But they have developed more treatment in the past couple years that have given us hope he can have a near normal life after this," he said.

That was if the family could find a donor, a daunting task with more than 85,000 Americans currently on the waiting list. However, unbeknownst to the family at the time, events were set in motion that would lead the Deatons to find a match in their darkest hour.

It has oft been said that God works in mysterious ways. While the great ice storm of 2009 caused pile-ups and power outages and headaches aplenty in the community, it would also lead the Deaton family to Christ and through Him, a kidney for Matthew.

"We lost our power, like everyone else, for nearly a week. Whenever everything and the TV came back on it was Sunday morning and Central Baptist Church. located in Jonesboro, Ark., was on KAIT. My wife and I had for years been trying to find a church we were comfortable at, and this guy Archie Mason, the pastor down there really talked to me," Grady said.

"For a year I worked on my wife to try to get her to go. She was like, 'There is no way we are driving 90 miles one-way just to go to church," he said.

But Grady says he felt God pressing on him to go and convince his wife to go as well. On Easter Sunday in 2010, she gave in. The family loaded up and headed south for a Saturday evening holiday service.

"We went and she said, 'OK. We have found our church home,'" Grady said.

The couple started attending Central Baptist Church on a regular basis. They began volunteering and during an event helping Arkansas State University students move in for the semester, met with a life group that resonated with them.

It was through this group, that the family met with the man who would give a kidney to their son.

"People have asked me, 'What are the odds of that?' And I say they are 100 percent when God is involved. We have how many churches in Poplar Bluff, and He led us to that church 90 miles away. I really felt a pressing to go down there. We felt a pressing to go into this life group," Grady said.

"And we met him (the donor) when Matt went into his last relapse," he said.

The community can also help the Deaton family by supporting a Spring Fling event beginning around 1 p.m. Saturday, May 20, at the Eagles in Poplar Bluff. The event will feature several bands, raffles and door prizes.

"I wish I could say it is coincidence, but it is 100-percent God. I have told this story several times over the past couple months and I still shake and get goose bumps because of how much God has moved. As far as getting us the donor, help, and all the things that have come to us, it is amazing," Grady said.

Matt and the donor are scheduled for surgery on June 20.

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