Man's gift of life saves wife

Dr. Jo reporting

- For years, Tammy Larkins' kidneys were failing.  She has polycystic kidney disease, which is passed down through the generations. 

Dialysis was keeping her alive.

"It takes a toll on you -- emotionally, physically, and spiritually," she said.

"To see what she's been going through, from being very active and then all of a sudden not being able to do anything, you know, can't even lift her kids up to give them a hug, and just struggling," offered her husband Jimmy.

Patients can wait months or years on transplant lists.  But Tammy's match was made almost 20 years ago when she said, "I do."

"There's no way you can tell me that God did not say he is definitely supposed to be your husband," she continued.

Both Tammy and Jimmy needed rounds of tests for the lab to ensure they were the perfect match.  Eventually, science proved what both knew in their hearts.

At the hospital, Jimmy went first.  Surgeons harvested his kidney, problem-free.

Tammy was next.  Doctors surgically attached Jimmy's kidney, allowing her body to filter blood.

Tammy's malfunctioning kidneys remain.  They're the size of basketballs so removing them now could be too much of a shock; she'll have that procedure next year.

Out of the hospital, Jimmy and Tammy say it's been a rough couple weeks.  But they're now on the mend and even have begun attending church again.

"Yesterday and today have been our best days, I think, feeling almost normal," Tammy offered.  "There's still the tenderness and if you move the wrong way, I say, 'Ooh I have a big incision right here.'"

"We're definitely better now than we were," Jimmy agreed.

As Tammy's wounds heal, she must now teach her body to accept her husband's kidney.

In addition to anti-rejection meds, she'll be at the hospital three times a week for blood work.  But there are no complaints about the gift that's made their bond even stronger.

"I definitely love you more than ever and I am thankful," Tammy told her husband.

"It's awesome to be able to do it -- awesome to be able to donate a kidney to her to help save her life," Jimmy added.  "Like she says, we're best friends and we're in it to win it for life."

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