The Perfect Match: Wife donates kidney to ill husband - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

The Perfect Match: Wife donates kidney to ill husband

(Source: KXXV) (Source: KXXV)
WHITNEY, TX (KXXV) -

Perry and Suzanne Auten’s love story goes back to when they were teenagers in high school.

 “We were best friends in high school. She had a boyfriend; I had a girlfriend. I got out of high school; she went to college and I went to work. And I guess I didn't meet her again for 25 years,” Perry said.

“When we did [meet again] it was like you could take, you could just turn back time. We were best friends,” Suzanne said.

 The two got married, and about 15 years ago, life took an unexpected turn.

Perry was at work one day riding in a tractor.

“I hit a big hole and the next day I had blood in my urine so went to the doctor and they diagnosed me with polycystic kidney disease, which I didn't even know I had it,” Perry said.

Doctors told Perry to change his diet to keep the kidneys from failing, but as the years went on, his kidney function lowered.

Family-friend Denise Callaway has known the Auten’s for a while and said Perry didn’t look any different after he was first diagnosed.

"He didn't act sick for years. He just kept doing what he was doing. But then I saw him going downhill some,” Callaway said.

Over the years, Perry’s energy level started to decline.

“You don’t realize how tired you are on the inside and how the things that you want to do, like clean your yard or clean off the porch or whatever, you just put that stuff off because physically you don’t really have the energy and mentally; It’s mostly mental, you just don’t feel like doing it,” Perry said.

Perry and Suzanne went to the doctor one day for a routine check up and the doctor gave them news they didn’t expect.

“They said I’m going to send you to the transplant team. We’re like transplant team?! We’re like that’s supposed to be 5 years, 10 years down the road,” Perry said.

“I remember both of us specifically asking the doctor are you sure? And he said it’s time,” Suzanne recalled.

Perry’s kidney function had dropped from 34 to 16 percent. Doctors said he needed to find a donor.

Suzanne said Perry has always been a man with a big heart. After hearing the news that he needed a transplant, she said the hardest part was knowing her loving, caring husband was now having to rely on others for help.

“[Perry] was at the mercy of others instead of being the one that was providing the help and the love when needed. “

The search for a donor began, but it wasn’t easy.

 “We thought, ‘oh well we’ll just do some checking with some friends or whatever had volunteered to help us out.’ But everyone got red-flagged for one reason or another,” Perry said.

Suzanne started researching, desperately hoping she could find a way she could help her beloved husband and best friend. Then, she got an idea.

At a doctor’s appointment, Suzanne suggested she should be tested.

 “Suzanne said, well just test me. And at the time the kidney doctor said well we can test you but it’s like less than 1 percent chance that she’ll be a match,” Perry said.

“I said maybe there’s a possibility I could donate to someone else. And they do what they call a kidney swap. Where you donate to someone else and then that moves him up the list so he wouldn’t have to be on dialysis as long,” Suzanne said.

Suzanne was tested and the couple got a call that said they were the same blood type.

“We didn’t even know that and we’d been married 16 years,” Perry said. “Then they called back within a couple of hours and told Suzanne, said we think that we’ve put the blood together and do all the things they have to do. You’re like a 99% match. We were just like: answered prayers,” Perry said.

Against all medical odds, Suzanne and Perry were a perfect match.

On November 11, 2015, Suzanne gave her husband one of her kidneys. The difference was immediate.

“He looked so healthy. I mean he had his color back. He looked healthy," Suzanne said.

“For weeks and weeks my health just took off again,” Perry said. “All the energy came back.”

Family and friends, like Denise Callaway, stepped in to help the couple while they recovered; cooking, cleaning and doing their laundry.

"We've been friends for a very long time I don't think I did anything different than they would've done for me,” Callaway said.

More than a year later, a sign hangs in their home reading “Life Life. Give Life. 11-11-15.”

“That’s a reminder that we got our life back,” Suzanne said. “He had gone downhill so much that our life was about how bad he felt and how we can make this better. And now it’s just about loving each other and loving our kids and our grandkids. Enjoying our friends and being the people God intended us to be.”

Perry's daughter is getting married in July, and now thanks to his wife’s kidney and better health, he can walk her down the aisle.

"Life is great .I'm probably the luckiest guy that I'll ever know because of how my life went down and my life went back up again. It's just like getting your life back again. It really is,” Perry said.

85,000 to 90,000 people in the United States are waiting for kidney transplants. For information on how you can become a donor, click here.

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