Restoring Hope
March 2018
A message from Restoring Hope Transplant House Executive Director Cindy Herbst:

A couple weeks ago we took my husband Brian to the hospital to check on a medical issue that had flared up.  All seemed ok and he was initially sent home.  Early last week, however, we rather shockingly learned that he has an extremely aggressive form of AML (Acute Myeloid Leukemia).  He has been hospitalized ever since as we work together with the amazing doctors on B66 here in Madison to try to figure this all out.

The normal day to day activities at RHTH have continued to go on and will continue to go on and we are so blessed to have such amazing families and dear friends there right now while I do my best to juggle the caregiver role as well as so many of you have when faced with similar situations.  Our mission for this house is even deeper and more committed than ever. 

We missed some truly great opportunities these past couple weeks to share RHTH and our transplant families with so many of our loyal supporters and we deeply apologize for that and hope that you will understand our absence given the circumstances.

We truly appreciate the outpouring of love and support and while I will be spending much of my time between RHTH and the hospital this week, I can still be reached by email ( if needed.  I look forward to seeing you all very soon!

Fight on!

Cindy Herbst 

*any cards in support of Brian can be sent to:
7457 Terrace Avenue
Middleton, WI 53562
How A House Inspired A Pancreas Transplant To Beat Diabetes
Our friend Liz (Onalaska, WI), as many of you know, has been here in Madison and also at RHTH for several months now as the transplant team works tirelessly to try to manage husband Ben's tricky med levels following him being the first simultaneous heart-liver transplant in UW history.

On March 1st, Liz received a call from UW hospital informing her that she had officially been added to the ir waiting list for a pancreas transplant...a potentially life-changing procedure that she hopes will bring an end to a lifetime of diabetes related struggles. In the months that Liz has been with us, she has temporarily lost vision in one eye on two different occasions due to diabetes issues. Very scary stuff.

This past winter, one of our guests, Jenn (at right) from Connecticut, came all the way to Madison for her own pancreas transplant after her hometown Yale University hospital stopped doing pancreas transplants. Jenn and Liz shared many diabetes related struggles from a very early age and quickly formed a strong bond because of it. One late November evening Jenn finally got the call for a pancreas and Liz and I decided to head down to the hospital to support her mother who was just in from Connecticut and all alone. Seems like just yesterday we sat in that dark waiting room nervously chatting and passing the time waiting for any text ping, elevator door opening or phone call with news. That night and the truly incredible stories of the people who have shared this home with Ben and Liz these past several months have helped to turn one incredibly challenging transplant journey into a life-changing opportunity that quite possibly may not have happened otherwise.

At 10:18 pm on March 7th, Liz's phone rang as several of our RHTH housemates gathered around the dining room table.  A week after being added to the pancreas transplant list, Liz was getting "The Call".  A moment and phone call nobody in that room will likely ever forget.  Liz had a successful pancreas transplant the following afternoon on March 8th and is doing quite well.  Liz deserves all the credit for making this life-changing procedure happen on her own, but it most definitely was the relationships and experiences created while sharing a home with other transplant families that ultimately inspired this effort to help overcome the very serious effects caused by diabetes.  Such a wonderful feeling to be a part of their journey!
Green Bay Guest Donates Kidney for Janesville Friend in 10 Person Chain
A Janesville woman recently took to Facebook in search of a life-saving kidney transplant.  One of our guests from Green Bay had the courage and compassion to step up and answer that call in what ultimately was a 10 person kidney transplant chain this past week.  In to donate her kidney on Thursday morning and back home in Green Bay recovering in her own bed Sunday night.  Incredible.  We cannot thank all of the big-hearted people like Karen (left) enough who so willingly and excitedly give the greatest of gifts to those in need. Thanks for being amazing! 
RHTH Transplant Family Member & Lions Club Friend Wins Prestigious Award
Congratulations to our friend David Stedman on this wonderful honor.  Thanks for all you do for Restoring Hope Transplant House and the entire transplant community.  Y our efforts are greatly appreciated by so many!
Lions Clubs: Where There's A Need There's a Lion!
Really appreciate all the love and support yesterday while up speaking at a Lions Club district convention in Eau Claire.  This has been a shocking and devastating couple weeks following Brian's cancer diagnosis so it actually felt quite therapeutic to get back on the road to share Restoring Hope and our many incredible stories with so many loyal supporters and friendly faces from the area.  We missed a really great speaking opportunity the week before in Wisconsin Dells as our world was turned completely upside down, so we also thank those folks for your understanding and so many kind words this past week.

We cannot thank our statewide Lions, Lioness and Leo Clubs enough for all they continue to do for this house and the many transplant families who come from their communities to stay at RHTH in their time of need. 

Just as incredible is the work being done by our former transplant guests Steve and Kelly Boettger who had a heart transplant with us and have gone on to raise tens of thousands of dollars for RHTH through Lions Clubs in Northern Illinois.  A truly amazing effort fueled by their own transplant journey.  Thanks to all of those Illinois Clubs who have embraced Steve and Kelly's efforts and this house.  We have always appreciated you, but now even more after the past couple weeks!

In Their Own Words: A New Heart For Forreston, Illinois
Hello, my name is Rodney. I was diagnosed with a cardio myopathy and my condition was such that the team of doctors at the UW Hospital determined I could not wait for a heart transplant so I had an LVAD inserted in December 2017. When I was discharged, I stayed at a local hotel for three days with my two brothers that took care of me.

On February 3rd, 2018 I received the call from the UW Hospital that a donor heart was available. The transplant surgery started that evening and was completed the next day Sunday February 4th. I was released from the UW Madison Hospital Tuesday, February 13th.

The UW staff referred me to the Restoring Hope Transplant House (RHTH) for my stay in the Madison area for the next 7 nights and 8 days. When we arrived at the RHTH that evening Eric immediately greeted us at the door with a friendly smile. From the very moment we walked in, we felt a sense of comfort and warmth. Meeting Cindy for the first time the next morning felt like seeing an old friend you have not seen in a long time. I have heard people say, and I have read in many of the patient stories, the term that the RHTH is like a home away from home but I would go as far as to say it is more than that. Words cannot begin to describe what it means to be able to stay at a place where you can share stories and experiences with other transplant recipients. Everyone at the RHTH makes you feel welcome and at ease. The compassion provided by Cindy and her son Eric are second to none. Outstanding people.

I would like to extend my sincere appreciation and heartfelt thank you for everything you do.

Rodney & Caregiver Brother Doug
Heart Transplant Recipient
Forreston, IL
In Their Own Words: A New Liver For UWSP Wrestling Coach
On June 12, 2014, Jacob traveled to Florida to compete in the Wrestling World Team Trials. He was a strong, healthy man, who not only competed, but was also the head wrestling coach at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania. After an outdoor workout, he became extremely dehydrated, suffered a heat stroke and lost consciousness. These issues led to liver failure, acute encephalopathy and a kidney injury. Doctors said a liver transplant was crucial to his survival. Thankfully, he received the lifesaving transplant on June 23, 2014.

This sudden, unexpected health crisis completely jarred the stability and normalcy of his life. Jacob was incredibly grateful for the love and support of his parents, who relocated to Florida to serve as his caregivers while recovered. It was difficult to be so far away from his family and friends, as most of his tight-knit support group was in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Wrestling has been a lifelong commitment for Jacob; he loves coaching and competing at both the national and international levels. While going through months of rehabilitation, he wasn't able to participate in the sport and was anxious to return to coaching. He's always been very active and loves being outdoors whether he's camping, kayaking, fishing or rock climbing and he looked forward to being healthy enough to return to his active lifestyle.

After a recover period, Jacob's parents moved back to Wisconsin. Eventually Jacob also moved back to Wisconsin and accepted the Assistant Wrestling Coach job position at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point (UWSP). Jacob was happy getting back to the sport he loved and coaching wrestling again.

Unfortunately, soon after his move back to Wisconsin Jacob's liver went into rejection. After several unsuccessful attempts of treatment to stop the rejection, Jacob learned he needed to have another liver transplant. Jacob continued his job at UWSP, while he went on the wait list for a liver at UW Hospital in Madison.

On February 4, 2018 Jacob received his second lifesaving transplant at UW Hospital in Madison. During Jacob's hospital stay, his parents stayed at the Restoring Hope Transplant House, which offered so much more than lodging, such as: compassion and support from staff and other residents. Jacob's strength and positive outlook, along with continued love and support from his family and friends will contribute to a successful recovery.

Jacob has returned home and looks forward to being healthy enough to return to coaching wrestling at UWSP and his active lifestyle. More than anything, he wants to live life to the fullest and share his love and laughter with the world around him.
VA Hospital Heart Recipient from Michigan Meets Donor Family in Wausau
Our Veterans Hospital friend Don (Monroe, MI) had an LVAD installed years ago following multiple heart attacks.  Just 6 months after that, he went on to have a heart transplant.  Following his checkup here in Madison this past week, he was heading up to Wausau to meet his donor family for the very first time.  Don is a gifted storyteller, a great figure in the transplant community and he went out of his way this past week to offer advice, stories and support for one of our new LVAD recipients also from Michigan.  Our thoughts and warmest thanks to those kind-hearted people in Wausau who gave Don the gift of life so he could continue to tell his stories and share his experiences with the next generation.
Amazon Smile for RHTH: 3x your impact! Amazon is tripling the donation rate on your first purchase - through March 31! Go to and Amazon donates to Restoring Hope Transplant House Inc.
Save The Date: Upcoming 2018 Events
Please Help: RHTH Fundraiser Event This Saturday!
We have been incredibly blessed to receive so many loving calls, cards and messages the past couple weeks with so many people asking "what can I do to help?".  One way you could really help support us and this cause is by spreading the word and participating in these upcoming events that benefit RHTH...with the first one coming up this weekend.  Please help us make these great events a huge success!
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!

Breakfast at RHTH with friends and good conversation: a great way to start each day before heading to the hospital
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.