A couple in South Florida might have just established the romance of the century. Instead of expensive jewelry, a Caribbean vacation, or some such, the husband's 23rd anniversary gift to his wife is something that saved her life: his own kidney.
The transplant procedure was broadcast live on Facebook on Feb. 19, marking the Memorial Regional Hospital's first-ever live kidney transplant. Over 30 health professionals — dietitians, social workers, surgeons, and more — took part in the surgery.
The Kidneys Matched
Juan Arenas, medical team lead, said the surgery between husband-and-wife Cesar and Monica Calle was a rare one because most couples don't have matching kidneys. In December, the couple underwent a series of lab tests that confirmed their kidneys were indeed compatible, and so were their antigens and blood types.
"To find a match between spouses is very unusual but very lucky for us to be able to find that," said Arenas, as Sun-Sentinel reports.
"I felt like I just won the lottery," Monica said of her husband. "The fact that I can actually travel now and not worry about carrying boxes with me or supplies or worry if it's gonna get lost. I felt so free."
According to Monica, she was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease a decade ago, which she inherited from her mother. As a result, she had to undergo dialysis every night and suffered with pain for over 32 months that almost caused her to give up entirely.
The couple was made aware before the operation that Cesar's kidney might end up not working once transplanted into Monica and that the two-hour surgery would be difficult. Even so, the doctors said they had exhibited "great attitudes" and were highly optimistic about the procedure.
An Amazing Gift
In the United States, there are about 100,000 patients who are awaiting an kidney donor, according to Arenas. According to Give a Kidney, a person is able to donate of their kidneys and still live a generally safe life. There are, however, risks in doing so, and perhaps that's why a lot of people are wary about considering donating an organ they were born with.
Monica knows how lucky she is — not only because she has a loving husband but also because everything fell into place perfectly, with their kidneys and blood types and antigens matching.
"This is an amazing gift," she said, days after the surgery. "God put this man in my life for a reason. He saved my life."
"We are so grateful to Memorial for everything that has been done," Cesar said. "It's a new start to her freedom."
So what did you give your wife as a wedding anniversary gift?