A perfect love match
IN ROMANCE, the phrase "to give a piece of yourself" is a bit of a cliche, but for one local couple, it's a very real concept.
Glenda Harris has suffered from kidney disease since she was born - now she shares a piece of her husband Gary.
"Years ago a specialist said I'd have to have a kidney trans- plant by the time I turned 40 - and I thought yeah, whatever," laughed Glenda.
"But then about halfway through last year they said I really had to start looking for a donor. I was getting ready for dialysis."
Glenda's son, daughter and mother-in-law all offered to help, and were for various reasons ruled out.
That's when Gary stepped in.
"I just said give me the test and we'll see how we go," Gary said.
When Gary's test results came back with three of five markers of compatibility, the decision was made.
"I'd decided to do it from the start. Every test came back positive, and we thought we'd just keep going seeing as we'd gotten that far."
Gary's kidney donation didn't become a reality until one day, while away in Queensland, Glenda got a call from her specialist telling her the operation had been scheduled for the coming weeks.
"We knew it could happen - and then it suddenly got to the point where it was happening now," Gary said.
Gary and Glenda, who run All Engineering, had to close their business to go to Sydney for surgery.
"We're lucky we had really good friends from the Colts Cricket Club, and the Woolgoolga Golf Club, who organised surprise fundraisers for us," Gary said.
"I can't thank Jamie Murray and Phil Dawson enough, along with my Mum and Dad."
It's taken several months of recovery, but Glenda and Gary are fighting fit, back at work, and keen to encourage others to consider organ donation.
"For the minimal amount of time it affects the donor, it really changes the recipients' life," Gary said.
And their lives?
Glenda and Gary look very much like a couple who've faced serious challenges and come out on top.
"He's with me forever, now," laughed Glenda.
Organ and tissue donation will be the subject of a forum at the Coffs Harbour Community Village later this month.
Specialist organ donation nurse Anne Judd will lead the discussion on how organ donations happen from source to destination, what donor families and recipients need to know and expect, as well as the ethics of organ donation, from 12.15-2pm on Tuesday, July 24.
For more general information, check out http://www.kidney.org.au.