Sharing a kidney and a lifetime of love
My husband is the best. He took those marriage vows to heart, in sickness and in health, only thanks to him I’m not sick anymore!
Larry and Jan Blaylock first met when they were teachers at the same school. Now married for nearly thirty years, they enjoy spending time together gardening and cheering for their favorite team, the University of Kansas Jayhawks. Aside from sharing many of the things that husbands and wives share, Larry and Jan share something very special in common: a kidney.
Jan suffered from PKD and knew it was only a matter of time before she would need a kidney transplant. PKD was prevalent in her family; her Mother died at age 50 from the disease, and Jan’s two brothers also had it. When Jan reached stage four of the disease, it was her younger brother, currently on a waiting list for a kidney, who first gave her the idea of considering a living donor. Jan and Larry decided to undergo testing to find out if Larry was a compatible transplant match.
The results came with a flood of relief and happiness: their blood was compatible and their tissues were a match. “Receiving that phone call was the happiest day of my life, aside from when we were married and when our children were born!” said Jan. Larry’s kidney meant she would not have to start dialysis. It also meant so much more. “One of the things I first thought after the transplant was how excited I was to be healthy at both my kids’ weddings,” Jan said.
For Larry, the results brought a feeling of peace. “I always had a feeling that it would work out this way,” said Larry. “Sometimes I wonder, maybe we were brought together for this reason.”
Larry donated one of his kidneys to Jan on May 24, 2012. When they came home after surgery, they recovered together with the help of a great support system of friends and family nearby who helped take care of them as they healed. Larry and Jan have two grown children, a daughter who does not have PKD and a son who does.
Due to the huge impact PKD has had on their family, Larry and Jan are passionate about both raising awareness of the disease, and also promoting the importance of organ donation. “Even if you find out you’re not a match for a family member, why stop there?” said Larry. “We can live with one kidney. I would encourage people to explore live kidney donation.”
Larry and Jan appreciate how the PKD Foundation is spreading awareness, and also boosting connections within the PKD community. “Growing up, I never knew anyone who had PKD like me,” Jan said. “I recently connected with a sorority sister of mine through the Foundation. I didn’t even know she had PKD!”
Along with forming a good support group, Jan’s advice for other PKD patients is to stay as healthy as you can. Staying active and eating right helped her feel better overall. Larry’s advice for spouses of PKD patients is to keep a positive attitude and do whatever it takes to support your spouse.
It’s a big year for Larry and Jan as they are celebrate their 30-year anniversary and watch both their son and daughter walk down the aisle. Thanks to the successful transplant, they are more excited than ever for the future.