Mom Who Refused Abortion Has Son Save
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
"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,
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
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
Now Bowen hopes her son's kidney helps her make up for lost time.
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