Husband gives wife kidney - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

In sickness and in health: Husband gives wife one of his kidneys

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WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - When Ethel and Tim Shackelford married 23 years ago, they promised to love each other in sickness and in health.  Several weeks ago, they put those vows to the test. 

In 2009, Ethel got sick at work and went to the hospital.  Emergency blood work would determine that she was in renal failure.

"I'm not medical, so I was like what the heck is that," Ethel said with a laugh.

Doctors told her she was in kidney failure and that she would have to go on dialysis to survive. 

For three years Ethel did in-home dialysis everyday.  Then, a few months ago, Tim would learn that he was a match and could give his wife one of his kidneys.

"I didn't even think about it," Tim says.  "She's my best friend.

In September, the two traveled to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland for the transplant.  The surgery went well, but days after the implant, Ethel's body showed signs it was rejecting the new kidney.

"That made me sad," Ethel said.

But doctor's at John's Hopkins worked around the clock to get Ethel's body acclimated to her husband's kidney.  She was put on a variety of medications and will have to remain on those for a while.

"I feel good.  I'm going to the bathroom all the time," Ethel says with a laugh, "but I feel great."

The two are now back in Wilmington.  Tim is back at work.  Ethel will continue to travel back and forth to Johns Hopkins until her body has fully accepted her new kidney. 

As for any second thoughts, Tim says absolutely not.  After all, he'd had already given her his most vital organ two decades ago.  He gave her his heart.

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