GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Lowell man celebrated his 55th birthday Thursday with a gift from his wife he’ll likely never be able to match.
Jim Sisson suffered from polycystic kidney disease, a rare genetic disorder. Complications from the same disease killed his father in the 1980s.
Sisson got on a waiting list for a new kidney, joining more than 100,000 people nationwide. He prepared for a wait that could have lasted years.
But it turned out a match was living under the same roof: his wife Laurie.
“We’ve been very blessed. There’s so many people out there that are not this fortunate,” Laurie Sisson said.
On Monday, the transplant team at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s hospital in Grand Rapids took one of Laurie’s kidney and put it inside Jim.
“He kept saying he didn’t want me to of it. He wouldn’t think any less of me if I didn’t. I said, ‘God didn’t make me a match for me to be selfish and keep the kidney to myself,’” Laurie Sisson said. “There was never once I looked back thinking I don’t want to do this.”
Laurie’s kidney worked for her husband — in more ways than one.
“I’ve been praying for a long time that we could reignite a spark. You know, when you’re married 35 years sometimes it takes a little oomph to get things where they should be,” Laurie Sisson said. “You’ve got to be careful what you pray for.”
If there’s one message the couple wants to get out, it’s the importance of organ donation. In Michigan alone, the waiting list for a new kidney is longer than 2,800 people. 353 are waiting for a call from Mercy Health Saint Mary’s transplant program.
Jim Sisson said he was looking at a wait of up to eight years for a kidney.
“If I would have went to Ohio, I could have got one within a year or two maybe because they have a lot more people that signed the registered donor list,” he said.
Thursday, just three days after receiving his new kidney, Sisson celebrated his 55th birthday. His next challenge, eh said, will be coming up with a gift for his wife.
“Always wanted to go on a trip,” Laurie Sisson hinted.
“Wherever she want to go now. Who’s she kidding?” her husband said.
Online: The Sissons’ Facebook page