Husband gives his kidney to his wife

August 6, 2010 6:41:36 PM PDT
He's a custodian at the high school, and she's the lunch lady.

Dave Medlar has given his wife many gifts in their 38 years of marriage, but on Monday, Josephine Medlar received another one -- probably the most important one, because it will keep her alive.

The couple was married 38 years ago. Like many young couples, they were deliriously happy and very much in love. But even then, both knew that this day would come.

"Early in our marriage, I think I knew I was going to do it someday, but you know it was so far away," Dave Medlar said.

Medlar is the custodian at Goshen High School, where he has worked for 36 years.

Two years ago, the students dedicated their yearbook to him.

Jo works in the lunchroom. She always knew the man she married would be willing to save her life.

"When they said in sickness and in health, he really took that vow seriously," Josephine Medlar said.

The sickness is Jo's polycystic kidney disease, discovered when the couple was dating.

"I knew in the future sometime I might try to donate a kidney. I never had any doubts," he said.

That future came on Monday in an operating room at Hackensack University Medical Center.

Dr. Ravi Munver carefully removed Dave's left kidney.

Almost not surprising, the couple was a good match for the transplant.

"They had blood type compatibility," Dr. Munver said. "Not all of their antibodies and antigens were an exact match, but they were a close enough match that with medication that she should be able to accept this kidney without many problems."

Transplant surgeon Dr. Michael Shapiro carried Dave's kidney into the next room, where, after washing it, he placed it in Jo's pelvis.

Dave's kidney now belongs to Josephine. They are a couple bonded together more than ever.

"We are hoping Jo's kidneys take so we can enjoy our retirement. That's our goal," Dave said.

The hospital told us they're both doing well. Jo's kidney is functioning already. Dave will go home in a few days. Jospehine will go home sometime next week.

The couple will be back at their school this fall.