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Married for 15 years, Heather Openlander already had her husband Kirk`s heart. Now she`s also getting his kidney.

‘Cause I love her,’ says Kirk Openlander, the husband giving his wife his kidney. ‘To me there was no question I was not going to do it. We make one and as corny as that sounds, she`s my life.’

Wednesday afternoon on the day before surgery, the couple were meeting with their Washington University surgeons at Barnes Hospital to discuss this most unique of Christmas presents.

‘My left kidney had to come out in September and they said it was the size of a small baby or a rugby football,’ says Heather Openlander, the wife receiving her husband`s kidney.

‘There are about 100-thousand people waiting on the list in the country for kidney`s in the U.S. alone,’ says Dr. Surendra Shenoy, Washington University Transplant Surgeon at Barnes Jewish Hospital. ‘For those 100-thousand the number of kidney`s available is only 12-thousand in a year. So you`re looking at a 1 in 10 chance to get a kidney if you`re waiting on the list.’

The simultaneous surgery will put the pair side by side, the place they`ve been for some time now.
For the past year husband kirk has had to give his wife heather daily dialysis in their home.

‘It`s pretty remarkable,’ says Dr. Jason Wellen, Surgical Director Kidney Pancreas Center Washington University & Barnes Jewish Transplant Center. ‘Not only has he helped her get through the process of having renal failure and be on dialysis but now he`s helping her come off of dialysis by giving her this gift which is his kidney.’

When it was determined a close match was the closest person she`s known, the ball began to roll for the kidney shaped Christmas present.

‘He`s my true match in more than one way,’ says Heather Openlander/Receiving Kidney from Husband. ‘I`m a very lucky girl. He`s my life.’

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