Kidney transplant

David finds love, and a kidney donor, in Wanda

David and Wanda

Neither David nor Wanda thought they would ever marry again after both going through divorces. Then, they connected through an online dating site, fell in love as they talked on the phone for two or three months, met in person, and got married later that year.

“It was our shared faith and family that drew us together,” Wanda said.

Early in their relationship, David shared with Wanda that he underwent a kidney transplant in 1995. He had suffered from glomerulonephritis, an inflammation of the filtering part of the kidneys, and received the gift of life from a deceased donor. Wanda, whose sister and mother were both very ill at the time, could empathize with David’s health care concerns.

They got married in October 2012, and the following year, David’s doctor told him he was once again experiencing kidney failure. Right away, Wanda decided she was going to be the one to help her new husband by becoming a living kidney donor.

“That gave me the encouragement I needed to get through this latest challenge in my health,” David said.

After David underwent the required tests at UW Health Transplant Center in Madison, Wisconsin, to receive a second kidney transplant, he was approved to be on the wait list for a kidney from a deceased donor.

“Wanda’s mother and I had a talk,” David said. “I told her I wanted to get a kidney from a deceased donor so I could spare Wanda the surgery. But her mom said, ‘Wanda’s giving you a kidney. That’s all there is to it.’”

Wanda was a good match for her husband and was cleared to donate her kidney in November 2013. “God knew what he was doing when he joined us,” she said.

The two newlyweds underwent their surgeries on Jan. 21, 2014. After they returned home, their parents came to help them a couple of times, but for the most part, they took care of each other. “It’s amazing what two people can do when they put their minds to it,” David said.

Both David and Wanda are big believers in signs from God, and as they tell their story, they like to talk about the parts of their journey that have meant a lot to them. David took Wanda to a transplant recipient support group picnic when they first started dating and she won a Christmas cactus. Before they left the house for his second transplant, there were two buds on the cactus. By the time they returned home, the buds had flowered, and the cactus has had flowers for the past nine years.

“We took that as a sign from God that everything was going to be OK,” Wanda said.

David is now in good health, and Wanda’s kidney is still working well for him. They acknowledge that they’re both feeling the effects of aging, but they still have enough stamina to complete chores around their farm and raise a few heifers every year.

“I’ve sat in a tractor from 8 in the morning until 10 at night,” David said. “We do pretty much anything we feel like.”