Avera Medical Minute AMcK: Bonded for life; husband donates kidney to wife

By  | 

100,000 people are waiting for a kidney transplant. Less than 200,000 kidney transplant are done in a year, making the need for donors critical for these patients.

“I want her as long as I possibly can have her. I’ll do whatever it takes,” said Matt Lowe of Yankton.

It’s a love story like none other.

“It’s amazing how God works in different ways,” said Kayla Lowe of Yankton.

Kayla needed a kidney transplant.

“It was unbelievable when he got the phone call that said he was a match and time to schedule the surgery,” said Kayla.

Kayla’s husband, Matt, was a match.

“Eight years ago, there’s no way. I was 350 pounds and there’s no way I would have even had been a candidate. I woke up one day and I was like I want to get in shape. I think that was the reason why,” said Matt.

Kayla, a mom to two teenage girls, had been on the kidney transplant list for three years and was on dialysis while she waited.

“Basically when I did dialysis, I went to that, came home, sleep, that was about it. And the next day I felt better but then the next day, I had to dialyze again,” said Kayla.

The autoimmune disease lupus was causing Kayla’s kidneys to fail.

“Someone develops kidney failure, they’re either approaching the need for dialysis, they’re on dialysis and often transplant is a great option for them. It extends life, doubles, triples life expectancy compared to dialysis,” said Dr. Robert Santella, transplant nephrologist.

Dr. Santella is part of Kayla’s team of doctors.

“The donor has to be healthy. The donor cannot have high blood pressure or diabetes or be obsese. Nationwide, about 50% of people who come and want to donate have a medical problem that’s found and they can’t donate,” said Dr. Santella.

Dr. Santella says there are two types of kidney transplants -- deceased and living donors.

“The problem with deceased donor transplants is the list is very long and in this area of the country, the wait can be four to six years. On the coasts it’s 10 years -- so living donor transplant is often the optimal way to go,” said Dr. Santella.

Kayla may still be waiting for a kidney if it weren’t for her husband.

“More than anything, he gave me a second chance at life more than anything,” said Kayla.

“She would have done the same to me I’m sure if it was reversed, so it’s just part of what I’m going to do,” said Matt.