April 2015 found Carol and Richard Murray in a new home, in a new town. It also found Richard feeling a little drained which he chalked up to the excitement and physical strain of moving. Less than two weeks later, on Mother’s Day, the couple found themselves in the Emergency room.
After initial testing, doctors identified Richard was in renal failure. Though Richard had years of high blood pressure and a heavy regimen of medications, CKD was unwelcome news to the Murrays.
“As a caregiver,” Carol writes, “it was extremely difficult to watch this man I loved so much struggling to maintain a good quality of life.”
Over the next three years, Richard’s kidney function fluctuated but through excellent care by his team at the University of Minnesota, the Murrays describe their life as “relatively normal.” Throughout the years there were several folks that stepped up as potential living donors, but through the evaluation process, they were eliminated.
“I must say I was truly in awe of my love,” Carol writes. “Richard’s strength, determination, and faith were nothing short of amazing. We continued to hold each other up in love and were determined to live life to the fullest each day.”
As they moved into the spring of 2018, Richard’s kidney function continued to decline and it appeared that another rebound was not in the cards.
Somewhere during this time of decline, Carol had a realization that perhaps she was destined to not only be a match for Richard in marriage, but also for kidney donation. Carol completed the Breeze Transplant questionnaire and was immediately disqualified due to her weight- an extremely common roadblock to donation.
Carol had tested and knew her overall health was good and that she was a blood match for Richard, so she set out to loose 60+ pounds before Richard was forced to go on dialysis.
In less than a year, Carol had lost the weight needed to donate and on March 18th, 2019, they found out Carol was a direct match for Richard. “A match made in heaven,” Carol says.
On June 12, 2019 Carol donated her left kidney to Richard, the man she vowed for better or worse to, nine and a half years earlier.
Today, the Murrays are eight months post-transplant and their lives have settled into another new normal. Carol and Richard remain focused on living their best lives possible and part of that includes giving back through volunteering with the National Kidney Foundation serving Minnesota. There’s a good chance you’ll hear them sharing their transplant story at future Big Ask; Big Give Transplant Workshops or walking for their second year at the Twin Cities Kidney Walk.
“The NKF is not only an incredible resource for those navigating through kidney disease and transplant,” Carol writes. “But also for those looking for education to aide in the prevention of kidney problems.”
“Richard and I have both been profoundly changed by this journey to and through transplant,” adds Carol. “We were each given a special miracle through this journey of love. We are humbled by our humanness, grounded in gratitude for the blessings we have been given, and have a willingness to give back in order to help others. Our desire is to continue to educate others about kidney disease, and donation. Today we know that regardless of what life presents, we will walk our journey with love, grace and dignity.”
“If we ever leave a legacy, it’s that we loved each other well.” - Indigo Girls