Most of us will go to the end of the earth for our loved ones. We’ll do almost anything to see them smile, but most importantly, to make sure they are healthy.
One Utah man knows this all too well, as when his wife got sick, he did everything he could to help her. However, despite knowing that the matter was out of his hands, he resorted to something else to help his wife. His story made headlines everywhere…
Walking For His Wife
Every day, this 74-year-old man wakes up and puts on a sandwich board advertisement and walks for miles near his Farr West, Utah home. Except, the fact that he’s on the older side means that Wayne doesn’t walk as fast as he used to.
The reason that Wayne gets up and walks every day is to help his wife whose health is in jeopardy. Wayne was at a loss at how to help when he learned his wife was diagnosed with stage 5 kidney failure. The diagnosis came out of nowhere and really shook the entire family…
The couple, who had been together for 26 years, learned of Deanne’s diagnosis two years ago. Wayne Winter was aware of the statistics, that according to the National Kidney Foundation, 3,000 new patients are added to the kidney donor waiting list each month and 13 people die every day while waiting for their kidney.
Determined To Save His Wife’s Life
Wayne was unable to allow that to happen to his wife, “I didn’t know what to do…I felt like I needed to do something,” Wayne said. Determined to take matters into his own hands, Wayne picked up a sandwich board and began his most important quest…
“Need Kidney 4 Wife”
“Need Kidney 4 Wife,” his sign read. Winter’s phone number and his wife’s blood type (A-) were also included on the board. While wearing the sign, Wayne walked miles every day near his home in Utah and rush hour was his favorite time.
Getting Drivers’ Attention
“They can look at my sign, they can’t go home in a hurry,” he said. On his first day, a driver stopped to tell him he would get tested to see if he was a match. Wayne quickly called his wife and said, “I think we have a good chance of getting you a kidney.”
The Calls Were Coming In
Then, the calls began pouring in. Wayne was receiving 700-800 calls daily and he was so overwhelmed he didn’t know what to think. During this chaotic time, the one call they had been waiting for came in from the hospital after an organ donor passed away.
Finally Found A Donor
Wayne prayed and prayed that Deanne would find a donor and even if she could have a good five years left to live that it would be awesome and they could have their life back. However, there was something they didn’t know about a donor who had died…
According to the University of Iowa Hospitals, even though a transplanted kidney from someone who has died has a shorter lifespan than one from a living person, on average it still lasts 10-12 years. This means that Wayne and Deanne could get more time than they were hoping for.
Walking For All Kidney Failure Patients
But even though Deanne found her kidney, Wayne doesn’t want to give up on his walks. He wants to continue them, advocating for all kidney failure patients. He says, “Think about it…We could start a kidney revolution, and that would be so great.” As far as where Wayne got the idea from to walk for his wife’s kidney…
Where Wayne Got The Idea
Wayne got the idea of using a sandwich board after seeing a story online about another man who did the same thing and got national attention for his search. That man was Larry Swilling. Larry, from Anderson County, South Carolina, explained that his wife was born with one kidney and ran into some complications after having their third child.
Unfortunately, the couple’s children weren’t a match, so they needed to find someone who would match her O positive blood type. His wife, Jimmy Sue Swilling was put on a waiting list for a new kidney, but Larry had to take matters into his own hands and get something done sooner…
A Husband’s Love
Like Wayne, he knew it would take a long time for a donor match to be found, and they didn’t have that kind of time. On Larry’s days off from work, he hit the streets with a sign, “Need kidney 4 wife.”
Many Went Through Testing
During his search, he met hundreds of good people who wanted to help. Then, after his story gained massive media attention, thousands of people called to offer their kidneys. More than 100 people wound up going through the testing to see if they were a match and one of them was…
Found Their Match
After a full year of searching, Larry met his miracle. Her name was Kelly Weaverling, and she’s a 41-year-old retired Navy lieutenant commander. Kelly said, “Have you ever just had a feeling that was just a strong gut feeling that you just went with your instinct because you knew it was right?” Kelly said.
“That’s exactly what happened…I could do something to give this family hope.” The donor had one request though before the transfer. She wanted the surgery to take place on September 11, to honor the men and women who sacrificed their lives for their country on that fateful day years ago…
The donor’s wish was granted. Larry said they only met the donor the day before surgery, but they couldn’t have been more grateful for her. “It’s pretty hard for someone who don’t know you to something like that…She’s a hero…Being in the service for 21 years, she is a true American and she’s what America is built on, heart and soul,” Larry said.
Heard About Jimmy Sue From A Yahoo Article
The donor had heard about the couple from news reports and she contacted the Medical University of South Carolina. After a successful transplant, Kelly was up and walking just hours after the procedure…
While Kelly and Jimmy Sue went through with their surgeries, Larry hugged all of their doctors. Jimmy Sue lived for another four years after her transplant, but she sadly passed away in 2017 as a result of complications related to Parkinson’s Disease.
Jimmy Sue’s Passing
However, the kidney and her husband’s love were both going strong until the end. Larry knows that his wife could have died long before she did if it wasn’t for the donation. The family is happy that she enjoyed her last few years with them.