While the heart may be the organ of love for most, to Bruce and Aurelia Keaton, of Buffalo, NY, the kidney they share is most definitely a symbol of their enduring love. On September 1, 2007, Aurelia gave Bruce a kidney and, one year later, Bruce gave Aurelia a wedding ring.
Uncontrolled hypertension and diabetes caused Bruce's kidneys to fail and compelled him to spend three days a week tethered to a dialysis machine. Doctors said he had less than a year to live if he didn't receive a new kidney. When family members were unable to donate, a nurse noted that the donor didn't need to be a blood relative, so Aurelia - Bruce's girlfriend at the time- got tested and turned out to be his true match.
No stranger to the world of transplantation, Aurelia's first husband passed away prior to receiving a much-needed heart transplant. Aurelia met Bruce shortly after her first husband's death and often told him that she only wished she had a second heart that she could have given to her late husband. Little did she know that her opportunity to save a life would come a couple of years later.
In 2006, Bruce was taken directly from work to the hospital where he was diagnosed with kidney failure and immediately began dialysis.
Aurelia lovingly offered him her kidney and a new lease on life. Since the kidney transplant, both have returned to health and their occupations-- Bruce as a bus driver and Aurelia as a machine operator.
These days, Aurelia is not too shy to show her scar—a testament to her love-- and tell others of her experience as a volunteer for the National Kidney Foundation of Western New York.
"We are living proof that you can live a normal life after organ transplantation," says Aurelia.