A Kidney with a Purpose

July 24, 2018, 11:39am EDT

Until he was diagnosed with kidney disease, Robert Muller did not know much about dialysis or kidney transplants. In 1974, he had other things to worry about. Until then, the 40-year-old accountant resided in Tulsa, Oklahoma, enjoyed raising his three young children with his wife Carol and lived a perfectly “normal” life. It wasn’t until he was taking care of some yard work that he felt too weak to do anything except head to the nearby clinic where he was then transferred to a hospital. He was ultimately diagnosed with kidney disease and told to go on a low protein diet and drink large amounts of water. Just four years later, he was on dialysis. “I didn’t know what was happening to me,” recalls Robert. 
Dialysis was necessary for Robert’s health but brought on other challenges. He was soon let go from his job and his idleness left him depressed. He would even beg Carol to take their children back to her parent’s home in Michigan in fear of not being able to take care of his family. Carol refused. She was against being away from her husband and separating the family. Instead, she supported Robert and accompanied him to all of his dialysis appointments.
Soon, Robert began to adapt to his new role in the family and took on more responsibilities with the children, from picking them up from school to helping put dinner on the table. He found purpose and pleasure in his role as a stay-at-home dad and took comfort in his church community.
Less than a year after being on dialysis, Robert was told that there was a kidney waiting for him if he wanted it. A motorcyclist had passed away, and his family had decided to donate his organs. Robert accepted immediately.
The surgery took place on May 12th, 1978, just a few days before Robert's 44thbirthday. It was one of the best gifts he could have ever received. But even though Robert's kidney was working well, his doctor anticipated that it would only lengthen Robert’s life by four or five years. “You need to get me a new kidney then,” Robert had said. Fast forward to today, he just celebrated his 40th transplant anniversary at age 84 and is grateful for the extra years that his new kidney has afforded him.
In 2008, Carol suffered a stroke that left her confined to a nursing home. Robert was there constantly; taking her outside to eat in the fresh air or wheeling her around the facility. His dedication to her never failed. When she passed away eight years later, Robert knew exactly why his kidney had survived so many years. His purpose was to take care of his family, especially his wife. When he needed her, she had been there, and when she needed him, he had been there, too.  “I trusted that God always had a plan,” he says of his experience.