Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Mom Who Refused Abortion Has Son Save Her Life

Arizona Republic - Phoenix, AZ -- Nearly two decades ago, Robyn Bowen refused when a doctor said she needed an abortion to save her life. Today, her 19-year-old son will give her a kidney and a chance to keep living.

Bowen was three months pregnant when a doctor at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., warned that her unborn baby would drain important nutrients and put a strain on her failing kidneys. After 12 hours of induced labor, Bowen delivered a healthy baby, Brandon Clute, three weeks early.

"We are going back to the same place that told us he would kill me and now he is giving me life again," said Bowen, who grew up in Mesa, Arizona.

Bowen, 42, will be in a room today next to her son at the Mayo Clinic as doctors make a small incision below Clute's navel and remove one of his kidneys. The organ will then be placed inside his mother. It will be her third kidney transplant; operations in 1985 and 1989 proved unsuccessful.

Clute is sacrificing an organ to free his mother from a dialysis machine and give the two a chance to make up for the many times they were separated by her illness.

For more than 15 years, Bowen has relied on the machine to withdraw blood from her body and rinse it of toxins before pumping it back through her veins. She and her only child hope today's five-hour operation frees her from the three-hour, three-day-a-week regimen of being hooked up to a machine.

But Bowen was reluctant to take a kidney from her son when he first offered it at 14. Clute would have to wait until he turned 18 to be considered, which was a relief to Bowen.

"I hoped he would forget," Bowen said. "You never want your child to go through any kind of pain, especially for you." Clute didn't forget. At 5 he thought it was cool to watch when he accompanied his mother for her dialysis treatment. In later years, he began to understand his mother's pain. He missed her during her numerous hospitalizations. He hated watching his mother hooked up to the machine when she received treatment at home.

"I watched her get weaker and weaker and wasting away," Clute said. "I knew someday I would have to save my mom's life."

Bowen tried her best to disguise her pain and be there for her son as much as possible. She attended community college and worked processing medical bills for a doctor while raising her son as a single mother.

But it was difficult to hide the scars left by needles that drew blood from her arm. Those treatments once brought about a blood clot that numbed her hand and robbed her ability to move her fingers, which she recovered from after three years.

She was still receiving treatment in 1994 when she met her future husband, Stephen, then a dialysis technician at an outpatient center in Scottsdale. Stephen Bowen fell in love with his patient, and two years later they married. He would eventually treat his wife from their home while continuing to treat patients at work.

The strain of working 10- to 14-hour days treating patients and then his wife soon wore on Stephen Bowen. It was difficult to watch patients who had become friends die and constantly be reminded of his wife's fragile hold on life. In July, he left his job and joined the medical records division at Scottsdale Health Care Osborn.

"We hadn't really spent much time together and when we did see each other, she was hooked up to the machine," Stephen Bowen said. "The machine set the tone for everything."

Robyn Bowen also has found strength in her faith and received financial and emotional support from friends. Her church, East Valley Bible Church in Gilbert, has donated thousands for her travel and medical costs and continues to hold fund-raisers, including one last weekend that raised $2,900.

Last year Bowen got to fulfill a promise when she recovered enough from a serious illness to attend her son's graduation at Dobson High School.

Now Bowen hopes her son's kidney helps her make up for lost time.

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