More and more, husbands owe their lives to their wives — literally. That’s because what used to be the uncommon exception in kidney donation has become the more common, even preferred, ideal.
Evidence of that will be on display on the Donate Life float at Monday’s Rose Parade. Some of the roses in the float’s Dedication Garden were dedicated to Southern California women who donated their kidneys to their husbands.
“I think wives are the best donors,” said Dr. Ervin Ruzics, who is the Medical Director of the Kidney Transplant Center at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange.
At a November ceremony, many of Ruzics’ patients came together to dedicate roses to the people who saved their lives through kidney donations. The roses will be put in the Dedication Garden on the Donate Life float.
One of the roses was dedicated to Mary Raymond. In 2015, Raymond gave her kidney to her husband, Lyle, who is a Sergeant with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Sgt. Raymond said at first, he was against his wife even getting tested to see if she was a viable match for a transplant. He didn’t want to jeopardize her health because of his condition. His wife decided to get tested anyway, and it turned out she was a good candidate to be his kidney donor.
“I’m extremely humbled by the fact that she did what she did despite my objections,” Sgt. Raymond said.
The Raymonds’ story is a good example of how the thinking in the transplant community has changed over the years. Ruzics said doctors used to advise against wives getting tested, but as the organ shortage grew, wives began demanding to be considered as potential donors. As doctors started studying the data after more women began donating their kidneys to their husbands, they came to a surprising conclusion.
“When we analyzed the results of the wife being a donor, it was superior to brothers and sisters (and) parents and children,” Ruzics said.
One reason is what you might call the spousal ‘guilt trip’ factor. Ruzics said one of the main reasons patients lose a transplanted organ is due to patients failing to take their medications. However, if your wife is the one who donated you the kidney, you can be pretty sure that she is not going to let you easily forget something as important as taking your medicine.
“If the wife was the donor, that husband took every single pill on time, every time,” Ruzics said.
Another thing that changed doctors thinking on letting wives get tested as donors can be seen in the case of Jesus and Krystal Torres. Last May, Krystal donated her kidney to her husband. Wives, Ruzics said, are more motivated because unlike other donors, they get a material benefit from the donation. In the Torres’ case, that benefit went not only to Krystal, who will get to spend more time with her husband, but also to their four young children.
“It’s not only a gift for him – giving him a gift of life – but it’s a gift for our whole family…and I’m just thankful and blessed,” Krystal Torres said.
While there are cases of husbands donating to wives, for unknown reasons, Ruzics said they’re not nearly as prevalent. He said various reports from around the world show wives donate to husbands more than twice as much as husbands donate to wives.