News & Stories

A Perfect Match

September 23, 2022

Diana and John share life, love, and kidneys

You gave John a second chance at life! Thank you, donors! (Diana and John pictured above)

Thanks to your support, Diana discovered she was the one person in thousands who could save her husband’s life

THE AWFUL DAY last spring was 23 years in coming. That’s when John’s doctor told him he wouldn’t survive without a kidney transplant.

Decades of unrecognized signs of kidney disease

Throughout John’s life, there had been clue after clue, but each one alone didn’t seem all that serious.When John was 16, he went to a local blood drive where he learned he had very high blood pressure.

Then, when he was 28, his doctor discovered a heart murmur. At 37, excruciating back pain drove John to the emergency room.

X-rays revealed a frightening diagnosis: polycystic kidney disease (PKD) — an inherited condition that often causes kidneys to fail by age 60. High blood pressure and heart abnormalities frequently accompany the disease.

“When I learned I had PKD, I was shattered,” says John. “My father had it. His kidneys failed when he was 39 and he died at 43.”

“John thought for sure he was going to die in his 40s,” adds Diana. But with a healthy diet, blood pressure medication, and the care of his dedicated physicians, his kidneys held out for 23 more years.

Last year, John’s time ran out. He had two options if he were to survive: dialysis for the rest of his life (regular, invasive treatments to help his damaged kidneys clean his blood) or a transplant. John desperately wanted a transplant, as it would give him a far better quality of life.

With your generosity, Diana and John never lost hope – or their sense of humor – as you can see from the custom pajamas they wore to the hospital on transplant day. The photo on the right shows what Diana calls “the sweetest moment of the whole experience,” when John’s nurses brought him down post-surgery to see her.

How to find a matching kidney

John looked into getting on the waitlist for a matching kidney from a deceased donor. But there was a six-year wait. He knew he didn’t have that much time.

John’s only other option was to find a living donor — and the odds of quickly identifying someone who was compatible, healthy, and willing were vanishingly slim.

That’s when Diana and John learned about paired donation, where an incompatible patient/ donor pair swaps with another pair to make two matches. John’s donor wouldn’t need to be a perfect match, dramatically reducing the waiting time.

Diana didn’t think twice about offering her own kidney in exchange for a matching kidney for John, and she quickly began the onerous donor screening process. “When you love somebody,” Diana says, “you’d give anything.”

Miraculously, the screening showed Diana’s kidney was a perfect match for John. “The odds of matching with a perfect stranger are roughly one in 100,000,” says Diana. “And to have married that one in 100,000! What are the odds of that?”

Last May, the couple awoke at the crack of dawn and headed into YNHH where Diana gave John two of the most profound gifts anyone can give — her kidney and a second chance at life.

“There is no way I can ever repay Diana for what she did,” says John. But for Diana, John’s new lease on a healthy life is much more than enough.

Will you give someone with failing kidneys the gift of a second chance at life?

3 ways you can make a profound impact today:

  1. Consider becoming a living kidney donor. You can live a healthy life with just one kidney, and through paired donation, your kidney can be someone’s perfect match. Learn about it here:
  2. Register today to become an organ donor in the event of your death. One organ donor can save up to 8 lives and restore sight to 2 people. Learn more here:
  3. Make a generous donation to the YNHH Transplantation Center Patient Care Fund. Your gift will help transplant patients, organ donor patients, and families who are struggling to afford prescriptions and pay bills:

Make a gift: