Forget the Roses- Giving a Kidney for Valentines Day

What did you do for your sweetie this Valentines Day?  Chocolate, flowers, maybe dinner?  One couple from Lackawanna County spent that day in the hospital, and they now share a bond few other couples ever will.

After 12 years and two kids, it’s safe to say that Khalid Fuller and Amy Comonie of Olyphant have been through a lot together.  But they weren’t at all prepared for what happened not long after Valentines Day of 2012.  Khalid, after some blood work, got a phone call ordering him to get to an emergency room.

“I was just a ticking time bomb, waiting to go.  And I felt great!  I didn’t even know I was sick,” said Khalid.

The 33-year-old, who is otherwise healthy, was in renal failure.  He was immediately put on dialysis and added to a kidney transplant waiting list.

“Once we put a patient on a wait list, the time to wait for a kidney can be as long as 4, 5, 6 years,” noted Dr. Chintalapati Varma.  He’s director of transplant surgery at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center near Wilkes-Barre.  He says doctors use an antigen match to determine whether a donor can work for a patient.

“A 3-antigen match is usually a brother or a sister,” noted Dr. Varma.

Khalid’s brother was tested, but wasn’t compatible for medical reasons.  But it turns out, another 3-antigen match was right next to him: his fiancee, Amy.   Talking to their kids about all of this, Amy said, was the hard part.

“That was tricky.  They were worried because they didn’t want to lose both of us.  But I had to explain that this is what you do when you love someone, and you want good things to happen,” she recalls.

So this February, Dr. Varma and Dr. Manish Gupta- along with their surgical teams- operated on Khalid and Amy.  One team removed her kidney while another waited nearby to transplant it into him.  Doctors say it was perfectly timed and couldn’t have gone more smoothly.

“We thought about it afterwards, like, oh my goodness this is on Valentines Day, and it’s a fiancee giving to fiance.  That turned out to be sort of a coincidence.  So forget the roses, right- just give a kidney!” he laughed.

“All i remember was being on the table, and that was it.  I woke up and looked over and there she was.  It was awesome,” Khalid said.



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