Kyle Terry and Dawn Terry are pictured Thursday, Feb. 12, 2009, at their home. A year ago, Dawn donated her kidney to her husband.
Photo: Scott Morgan - RRSTAR.com
CRESTON, Ill. —
It’s a good thing Kyle and Dawn Terry don’t engage in a game of one-upmanship when it comes to giving each other Valentine’s Day gifts.
If they did, Kyle would be hard-pressed to top his wife’s gift to him: a kidney.
“It’s a pretty selfless thing to do when someone gives you something like that,” said Kyle, who was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease.
Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of their surgeries performed at the University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison.
Kyle and Dawn agreed to share their story to bring awareness to the need for organ donations.
Polycystic kidney disease is a genetic disorder characterized by the growth of numerous cysts in the kidneys. The fluid-filled cysts enlarge the kidneys, resulting in reduced kidney function and eventually kidney failure. The result is life on dialysis or, in Kyle’s case, a kidney transplant.
“When I think of what I could be going through,” he said, “this is probably the best Valentine’s Day I could have.”
Kyle, 50, was diagnosed with the disease 25 years ago.
“It comes on slow,” he said. “You don’t really notice how bad you’re getting. You gradually slow down. I had an accident at work. I hit my kidney area on the side. I went to the doctor to get X-rays, and that’s when they discovered I had the disease.”
The diagnosis was made about seven years before Kyle and Dawn met while on the job at the now-defunct Caron Yarn, a yarn-spinning factory in Rochelle.
Dawn said she understood a day would come when Kyle would need a kidney transplant or would go on dialysis until a donor became available.
“We had talked about it, and I always said, ‘When it gets time, you can have one of mine.’ I knew we were the same blood type.
”I never gave it a second thought. From the time I was 16 years old, I’ve been an organ donor on my license.”
Kathy Schultz, a University of Wisconsin Hospital spokeswoman, said every day 18 people die on the “waiting list” and a new name is added to the list every 13 minutes.
“This is a big reason why living donation is so important,” she said. “It not only provides the gift of life to the recipient, but also removes their name from the waiting list, effectively moving everyone else up one notch. That’s why we call living donors ‘double heroes.’ They’re really saving two lives.”
Kyle was one to two weeks away from going on dialysis when he and Dawn went under the knife.
Dawn said the fact that the potentially life-saving procedure was performed on Valentine’s Day was merely a coincidence. Kyle said the fact that the kidney came from his wife and spared him from one day on dialysis was a blessing.
Dawn is encouraging everyone to give, be it as a living donor or otherwise.
“If you have a chance to be a donor, do it. The way it’s done, your recovery is not that long, and it’s well worth it,” she said. “It’s gratifying, it’s easy, and the doctors were great.”
Dawn said the four-hour laparoscopic surgery consisted of four incisions and a three-day stay in the hospital.
“I wasn’t doing cartwheels, but they had me up the same day I had the surgery.”
Kyle, a mechanic for Silgan Containers in Rochelle, also has made a full recovery. Instead of daily dialysis, he takes daily medication to keep his body from rejecting the organ.
As for how the couple will celebrate the one-year milestone, Dawn said:
“We’ll have dinner and just have a quiet evening at home.”
In the U.S., 100,678 people are waiting for a transplant, of which 78,380 (78 percent) need a kidney.
“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
In Great Britain, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
In Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves