After 41 years together, 61-year-old home dialysis patient Laura Harmon and her husband Stephen still treat every day like it’s their wedding day.
Laura has end stage renal disease (ESRD) for which she receives peritoneal dialysis, a life-saving treatment that uses her abdomen's lining to filter waste from her blood. Although Laura is able to set up her dialysis machine on her own, Stephen shows his love and support by setting it up for her every single night. Afterward, he stays with her while she receives 11 and a half hours of treatment. For the other 12 and a half hours in their day, Laura and Stephen spend every moment together, living life to the fullest.
The happy couple met after Stephen gave Laura a job at his barber shop when she was just 18 years old. More than 40 years later in Bullhead City, Arizona, they remain by each other’s side whether they’re traveling across the country to visit their seven grandchildren, riding their motorcycle around town, walking miles along the Colorado River or volunteering for the Special Olympics.
With hours of treatment each week, kidney disease can often be debilitating and take a toll on both the patient and care partner. But not for Laura and Stephen. “When you have an illness, you have a choice. You can let the treatment control you or you can take charge and not let the illness be an illness. We don’t let my failed kidneys get in the way of living our lives to the fullest together,” says the couple.
Last year, the couple spent their Valentine’s Day at a Special Olympics Valentine’s Dance, offering their time and love to children with special needs.