Restoring Hope
April 2018
Steve and Kelly during their stay at RHTH following Steve's heart transplant
RHTH Family Inspires Heartfelt Lions Club Donations
It was a pretty incredible visit to Rockford recently as our transplant friends and Lions Club District Governor Steve and Kelly Boettger presented checks to Restoring Hope Transplant House Co-Founder and Executive Director Cindy Herbst for over $24,000 as part of their ongoing project goals of donating $45,000 to the house they called home during Steve's heart transplant.

It was a very emotional time and speech to give where each and every word of gratitude came naturally from the heart. A very large percentage of our transplant guests arrive at our doorstep from Northern Illinois so to have so many of these Illinois Lions Clubs embrace Steve and Kelly's vision and support this home that serves so many of their own neighbors really was an incredible moment to share with all of them personally.  
Update: Our Personal Battle With Leukemia
We are a thankful and blessed family. Brian's recent leukemia diagnosis has sharpened what is truly important. Without our amazing kids, grandkids, family and all of you, this would be so beyond overwhelming. With so much interest and your heartfelt concern, I just wanted to pass along a quick update.

Brian was at UW Hospital for about a month until getting out just last week having completed the chemo phase preparation to hopefully go to bone marrow transplant. He tolerated this remarkably well and we are impressed with his compliance and hard work to do what the teams have asked like an athlete in training.

There have been challenges. A fall left him with broken toes and a dislocation so he is now in a walking boot recovering from that as well. Yet he continued to walk and build strength.

Through this process, we now have a completely new understanding of the Donation of Life. Regularly needing blood and platelets, there were times I had to wipe back tears just thinking of those who give blood regularly for the sake of others. As each bag was hung I was so grateful for this act of giving that kept Brian and so many others alive. During this month long celebration of Donate Life, please remember to keep these big-hearted people in your thoughts as well as the efforts to raise awareness for organ and bone marrow transplant donors. Without them, so many of our transplant family members would not have the future we all hope and yearn for.

We have learned that Brian is so lucky to have several 100% matches on the Bone Marrow Registry. We are blown away by this information. It gives us hope.

Later today we go back to the clinic to do labs, bone marrow biopsy and other testing to continue the path towards a bone marrow transplant. The waiting is the hardest part, so we are looking forward to meeting with our team. They have been the best guides on this journey even with the hard news.

We have experienced B66 in a whole new way. One minute life was progressing normally and in the next moment there was talk that we may only have mere weeks. We were completely devastated yet the entire hospital staff always managed to fill our sails with compassion. Life on the floor can be a very stressful existence but the human element and care factor of the staff is really incredible. There is no question in my mind that it is those real life elements that make UW Hospital one of the very best medical destinations in the country. From taking the personal time to address our many questions, to taking interest in what we do at the house on a daily basis, to sharing coffee and conversation, to showing us great patience and compassion when perhaps the enormity of it all led to us not always being at our very best. They have gone the extra mile on so many occasions and we would just like them to know how much their efforts and kindness have been appreciated. Living similar journeys with so many of our transplant families has certainly helped to ease many of our anxieties and given us the utmost confidence in all they do to help navigate us through this. We quite simply could not do this without the help of these amazing people.

I also get the need for this house on a completely different level. Shock, fear, exhaustion and a completely overwhelming sense of juggling more than any one human could possibly handle was a fairly typical day at the hospital for us and is for so many of our guests. My visits back to Restoring Hope Transplant House this past month have been so therapeutic for me personally. To laugh again among friends, to eat a home cooked meal, to share hospital updates and then also talk about anything but what was going on at the hospital, to feel so completely loved through your messages, letters, texts and emails. This house is such a special place for so many people and it fills me with emotion to say just how much I understand that now from your perspective.

There are so many people to thank that it would be impossible to do so on an individual basis. For the better part of this past month, I essentially lived at the hospital with Brian. I had to be there as much as possible. So many incredible people and dear friends have made so many great personal sacrifices to help get RHTH through this stretch. We are so moved by your kindness. The outpouring of support and well wishes have truly been incredible to see and have honestly helped to guide our spirits through some dark days. Please know that while we have not always been able to respond as we would like to each call, message or letter that they have been received and appreciated with joyful hearts.

With love and gratefulness,

Cindy Herbst
Co-Founder & Executive Director
Restoring Hope Transplant House 
Central Wisconsin Gift of Life Scavenger Hunt This Weekend
With their annual Central Wisconsin Gift of Life Scavenger Hunt event this weekend with proceeds going to benefit great transplant related causes including Restoring Hope Transplant House, please take a moment to read our friend Jill's amazing transplant story as a humanitarian kidney donor and please thank this group for all they do to give back to the transplant community. Appreciate you all so much!
Jill's Kidney Journey
On an average day in October of 2009 I was in my optometry office when a patient of mine, Lonnie, told me he was going to need a kidney transplant. Just as plain as if they came from someone in the room, I heard these words spoken to me...
"Tell him you'll give him one of yours"
That day began what would be an amazing journey of love, faith, heartbreak, and incredible joy. Lonnie and I went through all of the testing needed for me to donate a kidney to him. It was just two weeks prior to transplant when the hospital learned of other health issues of Lonnie's and cancelled our surgery. We were devastated. After a transfer of our records to University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, we started the process over. Soon UW came back with the devastating news that we were not, in fact, a good match after all. We were preparing to enter the "kidney swap" program when a deceased donor kidney became available for Lonnie. He was encouraged to take it. The transplant was a success! This left me unsure what the next step would be.
After months of prayer and discussion with my husband Mike, family, and friends, I decided to donate as a humanitarian(or non-directed) donor. But God had other plans! The day after I made my decision a friend at work, Laura, told me about her friend Sara who needed a kidney. Sara and I connected on Facebook. We asked UW to test our blood and were thrilled to find out we were a wonderful match! On July 21, 2011, surgeons at UW removed my left kidney and placed it in Sara's body. Although there were complications with the transplant, the surgeons were able to successfully complete the surgery. The emotions overtook me that day as I realized what a true miracle organ donation and transplant really is!
Since then Sara and I, along with her cousin Kathy and under the guidance of UW Organ and Tissue Donation, founded Central Wisconsin Gift of Life. The goal of our organization is to educate people about the incredible need for organ and tissue donors. Annually, we organize a large scavenger hunt that takes participants all over central Wisconsin completing crazy tasks and retrieving unique items. Through this effort and other fundraising projects, we have been humbly able to support two amazing causes - UW OTD and Restoring Hope Transplant House. The incredible people at UW and RHTH share our passion for helping organ and tissue donors and recipients. When Sara and I had surgery, RHTH was just starting to become a reality. Since then we have seen it grow into a loving and compassionate second home for so many organ donors, recipients, and their families. I get emotional just walking through the doors of RHTH, as I know the many incredible people who have walked through those doors before me. The time spent at RHTH has truly changed the lives of so many people.
I never grow tired of educating people about the need for organ donors. My work with UW as a donor mentor and special event speaker, and my work with my kidney recipient Sara through our organization, makes me realize that my journey was just the beginning of finding my true passion in life. My dream is that someday the number of donors will far exceed the recipients who need them.
New Middleton Kwik Trip Supports RHTH
Many thanks to Kwik Trip Chairman Don Zietlow and the entire staff at their new Kwik Trip location in MIddleton for the generous donation at their recent grand opening.  Special thanks to store leader Juan for personally nominating us.  Welcome to the Good Neighbor City and thanks so much for giving back to our community.  Nice to have our LaCrosse area transplant family with for their event as a LaCrosse based company and also fun to hear our guest from Pepin and Don share stories of similar friends we all shared from Gift of Life Transplant House in Rochester which really helped to inspire Restoring Hope Transplant House.  Such a small world.  It really makes people understand the importance of this house even though it may not be located directly in their own communities.  Thank you all for the support!
Comedy Fundraiser Filled With Laughs
Many thanks to everyone involved in the recent Comedy and Cocktails fundraiser event held by Mr Dave's Gift founded in memory of Dave St. John and geared to support bone marrow transplant related causes.  To have them choose RHTH as their charity of choice for this event was really touching considering our now personal journey with a very similar issue.  As we ourselves are now looking for a match on the bone marrow registry, we also applaud their efforts to raise awareness and add additional names to the Bone Marrow Registry. What a fun night of great laughs, talented performers and a great way to honor a loved one by celebrating a cause that would have been near and dear to his heart through comedy.  Thank you all!
Middleton Proud: Supporting The Community
Middleton has really turned into a foodie destination over the years and so many of our guests have come to enjoy all the community has to offer on the culinary front.  We always love supporting the community that has been so good to us so it was great catching up over breakfast up with our Clintonville, WI friend Jim who stayed with us many years ago with his family in his battle versus cancer.  Now cancer free, Jim made the most of his second chance at life and got married this past month.  We appreciate Jim, Gina and the entire family for their very generous contributions to RHTH through gifts made at their wedding. Congratulations friends!
Save The Date: Upcoming 2018 Events
Please join our friend Jill Dillon and the entire group at Central Wisconsin Gift of Life for their annual Scavenger Hunt event which benefits Restoring Hope Transplant House.  Jill is a kidney donor and a very active member in the transplant community and it was so wonderful to have her visit this past week with some friends.  It is our hope that many of our transplant families will join us this year as we travel the state at these great fundraiser events and so many other stops spreading the word about Restoring Hope.  We appreciate all you do for this house and our families!


You Can Help - Support RHTH & Transplant Families Today!

If this cause and the above faces, families and stories inspire and move you, we hope that you would please consider making a donation to Restoring Hope Transplant House.  Your generosity is so vitally important  as a non-profit that depends almost entirely upon financial contributions from supporters like you. 

Our regular monthly heating bills during this chilly Wisconsin winter are off the charts for this massive house.  Serving daily breakfasts to a full house is also a significant operating expense where donations are so crucial.  We simply cannot do this alone.

Please help support the transplant community by making a secure online donation to Restoring Hope Transplant House via PayPal today! 

We are also actively searching for major donors to help with our joint efforts with the Lions Clubs of Wisconsin and others to help push us over the top for our extensive plans to renovate and add on to the current house as well as monthly donors and fundraisers to help with operating expenses.  This will ensure that Restoring Hope Transplant House becomes a longtime fixture in both downtown Middleton and in the transplant community.  If you have any suggestions, connections or interest please contact Executive Director Cindy Herbst at 608-831-1726 or via email at  Please help!

RHTH guests surprised Cindy with a birthday celebration earlier this month
About Restoring Hope Transplant House - Contact Cindy

Restoring Hope Transplant House is a non-profit home established to serve organ and bone marrow transplant patients and their families. The home features six generously-sized guest rooms, multiple sitting rooms, full kitchen, laundry, cable tv, wi-fi and a tranquil yet convenient location in downtown Middleton, just five miles from UW Hospital.

If you have any questions about RHTH, please contact Cindy to learn more.