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Man donates kidney to wife of 30 years: ‘We’re a team’

Posted at 5:09 PM, Aug 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-09 17:09:09-04

SEATTLE – Lesley and Steve Kennedy are an active Seattle couple who share lots of laughs, two sons and a hunger for adventure.  However, for the last two years Lesley has been waiting for a kidney transplant.  That's where the love part of their story comes in.

"We're a team," said the couple, together at their home in mid-July.  "We can truly say we are a team.  We were a team before, but now we're really a team."

The Kennedys will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary this October, and this year's will be especially important.

They both love to travel, but in the last few years the couple has been grounded.  Lesley has Polycystic Kidney Disease , a genetic condition that causes her kidney's to fail over time.  Earlier this year, she went on dialysis and needed a kidney transplant to survive.

"It's not easy asking someone for a kidney," Lesley told KCPQ.  "It's not something you just walk up to anybody on the street and say hey, would you be willing to give me a kidney?"

Lesley's colleague along with her sister, Lisa Meriwether both offered to donate their kidneys.

"Why?" said Meriwether.  "Because she's my sister and I'd do anything for her."

Unfortunately, neither woman was a match.  That's when Steve stepped up to the plate.

"It's probably the best thing I've ever done in my life," said Steve Kennedy.

Lisa recalls seeing Steve visit Lesley after the surgery for the first time in the hospital.  "It was one of the most touching things I've seen," said Meriwether.  "It was pretty amazing."

It's been several weeks since the surgery and the couple are now back home.  Lesley is recovering and will be on medication for the rest of her life , but they're looking forward to planning their next big adventure.

"On my list is climbing Mount Kilimanjaro," said Steve.  "I've asked my son if he wants to and he's up to it."

The Kennedys say waiting for a deceased donor can take five to seven years, which is time Lesley may not have had.  Lucky for her, Steve wasn't just her match in life, he was the match that saved it.

"I've been sleeping next to this kidney for thirty years," said Lesley.  "It knows me.  So I'm hoping it stays with me for a good long time."

Polycystic Kidney Disease, or PKD affects about 200,000 people in the United States each year.  Steve and Lesley hope that by sharing their story, people learn more about the condition and consider becoming an organ donor.

Click here if you'd like to learn more about becoming a living donor.