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Wife gives husband the gift of life

Special to the Times | 4/17/2014, 9 a.m.
Jade Major-Bryan & Don Bryan

From the first day they met, Jade Major-Bryan and Don Bryan say they knew their love would be everlasting.

“I knew I had found the one whom my soul loves,” Jade said about her husband.

So when Don needed a life-saving kidney transplant, Jade didn’t hesitate when volunteering to become his donor – and save his life.

“I feel so blessed,” Don said. “I am forever thankful for the sacrifice she has made.”

In December 2013, Jade donated a kidney to her husband, becoming the 100th living-donor transplantation for that year. The surgery was performed at the Miami Transplant Institute at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center. In fact, it was a record year for transplants there. Miami Transplant Institute surgeons successfully performed 320 kidney transplants, including 100 living donor adult and pediatric transplants – the highest number of living donor transplants in Florida.

As a baby, Don was diagnosed with obstructive nephropathy – a condition that caused the blockage of kidney ureters, tubes that propel urine from the kidneys to the urinary bladder. At 6 months old, he underwent surgery to correct the obstruction, becoming the youngest baby in Jamaica to ever survive this type of surgery. Now living in Weston, Don managed to live a healthy life for many years, but in 2010 he began having issues with his kidneys again.

“I had 10 percent of my kidney function. I felt very weak all the time, and had no energy,” Don said. “After the transplant, I see the brightness of a new life. I’m looking forward to normalcy, and even enjoying simple things like a glass of orange juice.”

Doctors are pleased with Don’s progress.

“Don is recovering really well, and is expected to lead a normal life after the transplant,” said Giselle Guerra, M.D., medical director of the Living Kidney Donor Program at the Miami Transplant Institute.

Live kidney donation helps shorten the time for other transplant patients to receive organs from the deceased donor pool.

Currently, more than 121,000 people in the United States are on the deceased donor waiting list.

Also, a kidney from a living donor usually functions immediately, making it easier to monitor and improve patient survival, said Dr. Guerra.

“Live donation has the additional benefit of possibly lasting up to twice as long as a deceased donor transplant due to the shortened time for removal of the donor kidney to transplantation in the recipient,” said Dr. Guerra.

Deciding to donate a kidney to a relative, friend or even stranger can be a difficult decision for many people. But most donors do not regret their decision.

“I highly recommend that people donate a kidney,” said Jade. “You can help save a life.”

Kidney donation does not change life expectancy, nor does it increase a person’s risks of developing kidney disease or other health problems, said Dr. Guerra. Donors can even go on to have children.

“A person can lead an active, normal life with only one kidney,” she said. “Studies have shown that one kidney is sufficient to be healthy and live a normal life.”

Jade, a life coach, had no problem recovering after donating a kidney to her husband, and quickly returned to her normal activities. Now, she and Don are both healthy – and looking forward to starting a family.

“When we decided to get married, we came into this union knowing that we had to trust each other,” said Jade. “We are two hearts truly alive.”

If you are interested in becoming a living-donor, or for more information, please contact 305-355-LIFE.