Gwinnett County man donates kidney to dying wife

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A Gwinnett County woman said her husband saved her life with one generous donation. 

Lisa Washington was diagnosed with kidney disease when she was just 7-years-old. She always knew that one day she would need a kidney transplant.

That day came suddenly in 2008 at the worst possible time.

"After I had my son, my doctor said my kidneys would last seven years and sure enough, when my son turned 7 I had a stroke," Mrs. Washington told FOX 5's Portia Bruner. "I was in a coma for three days and they were preparing my husband to be a single dad."

Joseph Washington agonized over Lisa's condition, but was convinced God would intervene. By chance, he discovered he shared his wife's universal blood type when he was donating blood to the Red Cross.

"It stunned me. I was like, 'You don't understand what this means. I could be a donor for my wife.' I was so excited I called her doctors at Emory right on the spot," Washington said.

As fate would have it, tests showed his organs were a perfect match as well, but Lisa was reluctant to accept her husband's kidney offer, fearful he might die during the transplant surgery.

"He's been my rock. He even married me when I was sick, but I didn't want him to be the donor because I knew the risks," she said.

However, Joseph insisted and on June 17, 2008, doctors transplanted his kidney and Lisa has been thriving ever since. Today, she credits her husband for all of the milestones they've celebrated together since the transplant.

Lisa has launched her own health and wellness business and had a great run on The Food Network's most recent season of All Star Academy. She's watched two grandchildren come into the world and recently celebrated 20 years of marriage with the man who kept a promise to be there in sickness and in health.

"I told him on our 20 year vow renewal ceremony that I am who I am because he is who he is. I'm just so grateful to have a man love me this much, with such an amazing heart," she said. 

Lisa said she hopes people will see this story and consider being living organ donors. 

"Or, just make sure your family and friends know you want to donate your organs if you die. Know your blood type in case there's an emergency and be sure to be prepared with a Living Will and a Last Will. These are difficult conversations to have, but it's worth it. Obviously."