10 Aug Meet the Morgans
Parents-to-be, Matthew and Sonja Morgan, from Hackberry, Louisiana, were just 17 weeks pregnant, when their OBGYN discovered their baby’s kidneys were swollen and had a rare birth defect called LUTO, or lower urinary tract obstruction. Seeking the very best medical care, they traveled to Houston for treatment at Texas Children’s Hospital.
After several anxious months, baby Brannon was born in September of 2015. Shortly after birth, his little kidneys failed, and he was immediately placed on dialysis (and has been every since). In the first eight months of his life, Brannon has had more than 12 surgeries. His cure? A kidney transplant. Once he reaches the twenty-pound weight requirement, then Brannon can be placed on the transplant waiting list. However, the average wait time for a kidney transplant is one to three years.
During this waiting period, Brannon and Mom live at the Holcombe House to remain close to Texas Children’s Hospital. Brannon’s grandmother, Kat, drives to Houston to be with Sonja and Brannon during the week while Dad works in Hackberry. On the weekends, Grandma returns to Hackberry to visit her husband, and Dad comes to Houston.
Coming from a tight-knit community, it was very important for Dad and Grandpa that Mom and Grandma stay somewhere comfortable, supportive, and safe. “We’ve made lasting friends here,” explains Kat who has found a support system in the other families also staying at the House. Meanwhile, Sonja finds comfort in other young moms who also share the experience of caring for a critically ill child. “No matter what happens to any of our families, that’s a permanent bond that we’ve made,” says Kat.
An average day for grandma Kat involves waking up early – around 4 AM – and coming downstairs to the community kitchen where she bakes her famous muffins. She sits down in the dining room with her laptop and completes her work remotely, before most of the House is awake. Then, she places the fresh-baked muffins on the kitchen counter, and watches as families grab a muffin on their way to the hospital. “At first, I thought it was cool to watch, but then it impacted me when several people said You know, I wouldn’t have eaten breakfast this morning”.
“When I’m gone for a while, and I come back, sometimes I don’t even know these people’s names, and they’ll say The Muffin Lady is back!” she laughs. “And no, I don’t bake muffins at home,” explains Kat who says she can’t remember what prompted her to start in the first place. But grandma Kat doesn’t just bake muffins. She also has a bluegrass band that came to play for the 50 families staying at our Holcombe House. “Our band being here, that meant a lot for them to travel all this way just for us.”
“I’ve got to stay busy, or I’ll go nuts,” reveals Kat. “So I’ll bake my muffins, that’s my therapy. And hopefully it just soothes somebody else, and starts their day good. Or if I’m cooking gumbo or rice and gravy, if they want to come and grab a plate, that’s okay too.”