Wife to Donate Kidney to Ailing Husband

Barbara and Juan Lopez are the perfect couple.

Aside from being head over heels in love, Barbara has a kidney that's an exact match for her husband, who desperately needs a kidney transplant, according to a story published Thursday on WCSH

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In January, Juan received the news that both of his kidneys weren’t working. He was put on various medication, which only worsened his situation, sending him into kidney failure. 

"They put me in the hospital, they kicked in again, then I started taking medications." Juan told WCSH. He and Barbara began researching options such as other medication and dialysis (a process that filters blood to rid the body of harmful wastes.  Meanwhile, Juan fell into a depression because he feared he wouldn’t be healthy for his three kids.

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So Barbara stepped up to the plate in March and got tested to be a donor for her husband. She was an exact match. “It’s mixed emotions, it’s a little bit of everything— it’s joy, it’s fear,” said Barbara, fighting back tears.

“If I can help, in any way, I don’t care if I have to give my kidney to a stranger I would help him. Luckily, though, I was a match, I was a match."

She added, "Luckily, I have been blessed with good health. And because I have been blessed with good health I want to bless my husband with good health."

Neither Barbara nor Juan could be reached for comment, but according to WCSH.com, both will undergo transplant surgery in San Antonio on June 19th.

“It’s extremely rare for a husband and wife to be a perfect kidney match—it’s like winning the lottery,” David Leeser, M.D., chief of kidney and pancreas transplantation at the University of Maryland Department of Surgery told Yahoo! Shine. “For perspective, we do about 300 kidney transplants per year for people who are related. We do three, maybe four procedures for people who are unrelated. So the odds of a married couple being a match, much less a perfect match, are very rare.”

If the two people are siblings, there's likely a 25 percent chance they are perfect matches. If the two people are a mother and a child, the odds spike to 50 percent. Doctors define a "perfect match" as the patient’s body not rejecting the donor’s kidney.

Once a match is made, doctors check the donor’s renal function (how efficiently the kidneys filter blood). If the donor suffers from high blood pressure or diabetes, for example, he or she will not be deemed healthy enough to donate. “We don’t want to take a kidney from someone who may develop renal issues down the line,” said Leeser. “If someone has high blood pressure they could go into renal failure. If you take their kidneys, you raise that risk. We want to protect the donor.”

Once the donor is cleared, he or she will undergo a procedure during which doctors make incisions on the stomach or bikini line and scoop out the kidney.

According to the National Kidney Registry, there are more than 150,000 people in the United States living active and healthy lives with transplanted kidneys.

"I love him with all my kidney," said Barbara. "Or I tell him, you've always had my heart; now you have my kidney."

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