A match made in heaven… and the hospital! The lupus patient saved by his wife's kidney after doctors told him finding a donor would be a 'miracle'
11:13 GMT, 23 June 2012
A young woman from Dallas gave her husband the best wedding present he could have ever dreamed this week when she donated her kidney to save his life.
Jonathan Woodlief had been told by doctors last year that his chances of finding a match for a second failed kidney were as likely as winning the lottery.
But in what doctors say is a 'medical miracle', when his wife of only eight months, Caitlin, went to be tested, she turned out to be his perfect match in every sense.
Happy days: Jonathan and Caitlin Townsend were married before Caitlin discovered she was a perfect match for his desperately needed kidney transplant
Diagnosed with Lupus as a young boy, his mother had already given her son one of her healthy kidneys but when it started deteriorating unexpectedly last year, his future looked gloomy.
Doctors told him that because he had lost antibodies from the original transplant and blood transfusions, a match would be almost impossible to find.
A young couple enjoying the carefree joys of falling in love, Jonathan and Caitlin were suddenly faced with big decisions about their future.
Talking to ABC, Caitlin recalled: 'Dating was really difficult. You're trying to figure out how much to put your heart on the line, like any dating situation.
'But now I have to decide whether or not to go with him to chemo treatments. It's scary and intimidating dealing with a big disease.'
All set: The chances that Caitlin would be the right match were like wining the lottery and doctors have called it a 'medical miracle'
For Jonathan the experience was a rollercoaster of emotions as well as, faced long and frequent stints in the hospital, even his first meeting with Caitlin's parents took place bedside.
'That was humbling,' he admitted. 'Me wanting to be a man who could provide and love her, and being insecure about my health.'
But devoted to each other they fought on, she, knowing he would do the same for him and he, determined to find a way to stay positive.
Despite Jonathan's potentially dim prospects of a healthy and long life, the couple married in October last year.
Looking at the likelihood of 15 years or more of dialysis, Jonathan said: 'It was a rough year for us and a tough decision.'
And then in January, a phone call changed their lives forever following Caitlin's trip to the hospital to get tested with some friends, all of whom came back negative as a match.
'It was a rough year for us and a tough decision'
'I was like, “I'm a match” and his face just went like…,' she remembered stopping to imitate his shock.
'You're a match You're the match' he had replied incredulously.
The couple went into surgery on Tuesday at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas and are now back at home recuperating.
Now that they're lives together stretch out before them filled with only excitement of the uknown, they have big plans to start a family and put their Christian education and experience towards helping others who are suffering.
First though, said Caitlin, is 'swimming and jumping and running and playing basketball.'