There are times when life presents someone with what seems like insurmountable odds in a war where victory is far from reach.
In those dark times, a hero steps up and saves the day — or at least that’s how it is in the comic books and movies.
There are also heroes in real life, but unlike Superman, people are not invincible — despite the risks, they’re willing to sacrifice their life and health for another.
One such hero’s name in Brandon Palmer, and his selfless sacrifice will not only improve the quality but extend the life of his stepdaughter, Brianna.
At age 5, Brianna was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, an aggressive cancer that creates tumors throughout the body. A softball-sized tumor that was suffocating her bladder was removed from Brianna, and the cancer went into remission. The battle was won, but the war was far from over.
The damage was done, and several years after that victory, the family learned that Brianna, who is now 13, suffered severe damage to her bladder and colon as a result of the tumor, and her kidneys were losing another battle.
Up until this point, Brianna was just a normal girl — listening to Justin Bieber and Ludacris, attending classes at East Jessamine Middle School and looking forward to being on the cheerleading team. But by November, it is expected she will have an emergency-level kidney function of only 9 percent, and the strain on her body has forced her be home-schooled and torn away from her friends.
Brianna has only one option — a transplant.
This is when her stepfather, Brandon Palmer got the lab work done without hesitation to see if he was a match for her.
“I just knew it even before the test; it was meant to be,” Brandon said. “To me it wasn’t a question of if, but when.”
As a non-blood relative, Brandon’s chances of being a match were approximately one in 100,000, according to Wish Upon a Hero representative Carol Lunger.
Brandon turned out be a near-perfect match, with the correct blood-type and blood that was compatible with six of the antigens needed to become a donor.
“That is even more rare, maybe a one-in-a-million chance,” said Brianna’s mother, Shawna Palmer.
According to the American Association of Kidney Patients, this type of match only occurs 25 percent of the time between siblings who have the same mother and father, but it’s not completely unheard of from time-to-time in a random fashion in the general population.
Now Brianna faces the prospect of several surgeries in her future.
Her first surgery will be Nov. 7 to remove one of her kidneys, among other organs, in preparation for a kidney transplant from Brandon.
If everything goes well, the kidney transplant is slated for February 2013.
This poses another challenge for the family, because both parents in the three-child household need to work middle-class jobs to provide a comfortable lifestyle in Nicholasville. Brandon will have to take a leave of absence after the transplant.
“It’s not about the money,” Brandon said. “We will find a way, one way or another, but we have received a lot of help, from family and from strangers,” Brandon said. “This is going to happen — there is no other option in my eyes.”
Just recently, Brandon and Brianna made a three-minute YouTube video that tells her story in a unique way.
This is where Wish Upon a Hero came in and offered to get the word out. The organization is spearheading an effort to help the Palmers get what they estimate is about $4,000 to help with bills while Brandon is out of work. Not only are they setting up a way for people to help out, but they are working to talk about Brianna’s condition and get the word out about organ donations in general.
“That’s the most important thing to us really, is not just letting people know about Brianna’s circumstance but that there are others out there,” Shawna said. “If people only knew what they could do to help, it would make a difference in so many people’s lives, not just Brianna’s.”
For more information, you can find her online on Facebook at Prayer for Brianna. To help out financially, text “HERO” to 80088 to donate $5 toward Brianna’s wish or donate online at www.kidneywishes.com.