Iowa City Man Donates Kidney to Wife Just in Time to Enjoy Holidays

Published: Dec. 24, 2015 at 1:27 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

An Iowa City woman received a rather unique gift this holiday season from her husband.

"I just assumed that I would go on dialysis and wait for a kidney and that it would be a tremendous gift if this worked out," said Kristin Thelander, the recent recipient of one of her husband's kidneys.

Wayne and Kristin Thelander had the dual surgery around Thanksgiving.

"To me it's a selfish decision to do this because I want to spend more time with her, and I want it to be quality time rather than being worried about being hooked up to a dialysis machine," said Wayne, who is the orchestra director at Iowa City West High School.

Kristin, a professor in the UI School of Music, suffers from polycystic kidney disease, a disorder that causes cysts to develop in the kidneys. Last year doctors told her she would need to go on dialysis or get a transplant as the condition worsened.

"I never dared count on Wayne's kidney, at least my head never did, my heart kind of thought it seemed like it was meant to be," said Kristin.

After extensive testing doctors deemed Wayne a good match and the couple underwent surgery.

"That was like a big, nice surprise that we both had the same blood type," said Wayne.

Wayne had tried to donate a year prior, but at the time doctors told him he would need to slightly improve his blood and sugar numbers, which he did over the course of 2015.

Doctors at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, where the procedure was performed, said about 10 percent of their living donations happen between spouses.

"In the distant past, only people who were genetically related would donate organs, but now it's becoming far more common for people that are not genetically related to do it," said Dr. Alan Reed, director of the UI's Organ Transplant Center.