by Sunny Layne
CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -- If your loved one had a life-threatening illness, what would you do?
Would you put yours on the line?
One eastern Iowa family has had to face this scenario more than once, and it has made them all the more close.
Music and laughter fill the home of the Twito family, a family that has paid a steep price for its unity.
Five years ago, family members prepared to say good bye to second-child Caleb.
"When I was on the helicopter, I went from breathing normally to just kind of gasping for breath, to barely being able to breathe at all," Caleb said. "I just felt my lungs tighten up."
In September 2003, then 20-year-old Caleb contracted deadly Bacterial Meningitis along with six others.
His mother Cathy says God foreshadowed the event at a Bible study three months earlier.
"The author saying something like, 'Sometimes the thing you fear the most, God will take you there to show you don't need to be afraid,'" Cathy said. "I remember specifically saying 'Lord, I could never lose a child. Thank you, I'm glad we discussed this,' and then three months later there I was, standing by the bedside of one of my children saying good-bye."
The challenge hit particularly close for father Roger, because of his line of work.
"All of my life as a youth director and pastor I've told people to have faith to trust God and know your life is in his hands, then you sit across from a doctor who says this may take your son's life," he said.
Three people in eastern Iowa died of bacterial meningitis that fall.
Twenty days after almost sure death, Caleb miraculously survived to live a full life and write music.
"I see my life as brand new, and just a bonus from here on out," Caleb said.
But five years later, the reach of meningitis still threatened in the form of failed kidneys.
"She stepped forward and said 'I'd like it to be me,'" Caleb said.
In May 2008 doctors told Caleb he needed a new kidney to survive. In a move that would bring the family even closer, this mother of six offerred her own.
"My mom has been the rock of this family, ever since I can remember," Caleb said. "Just seems normal that she'd give something like that up."
In this uncommonly-close family, literally giving a part of the body seems commonplace.
"Not because of what she's doing to get from it, but because it's what love demands," Roger said.
"Even though I want to hold them close I have to commit [my children] almost daily to God's care," Cathy said.
Now 25 and engaged to be married, Caleb plans to share the love he's received from family and friends in the form of song.
After all, with yet another lease on life, he has plenty of music left in him.
Caleb and his fiance will begin their lives together in Indianapolis, while the rest of the Twitos will start a new church, Ascension Lutheran, in Ames.
Reporter: Sunny Layne