“I have said this to other donors and family members with whom we have spoken about this. I said we are looking for donors, but you should know that I will come first,” said Paul Malik. When Paul found out his wife needed a kidney transplant, he didn’t hesitate to get tested. And the Naperville couple turned out to be a good match.
On January 23rd, Beth Malik will have her second kidney transplant. The 55-year-old was born with a congenital kidney defect. When she was two years old, doctors discovered that one of her kidneys was nonfunctional and the other was about 50% functional. Until she was 18, she led “a normal life”. Beth began to lose her hearing and was down to 70 pounds.
“They waited to get a kidney transplant because the steroids they put on you stunt your growth,” Beth said. At that point it was time for a kidney transplant, which she received from her sister. Now, 36 years later, Beth needs a new kidney.
In March 2021, she went to the Edward Hospital emergency department. Doctors found that her blood pressure was high, her kidney function was less than 5%, and she had a tumor on her uterus. “It was devastating, it was a lot of negative things in a short amount of time,” Beth said.
Naperville husband and wife match
She underwent a hysterectomy and “the mass was benign,” Paul said. After that, when the search for a donor began and Paul’s tests came back consistent. “I cried. We cried. We’re really crying now,” Beth said. “It was always the right thing to do from the start,” Paul said.
Beth said she was never told she might need another kidney at some point, but doctors “were very surprised” that her kidney had been healthy enough for so long. “Knowing my wife, it’s better that she hasn’t looked at a date on a calendar or wondered if her kidney is going to fail every year for the last 36 years,” Paul said.
challenges for the couple
That doesn’t mean the journey has been easy for both of them over the past few months. The couple, who married in Hawaii 20 years ago, have two children. There were things like family traditions and college visits that Beth couldn’t be a part of. She and her family had to take extra precautions to keep her from contracting COVID-19 or even the flu.
“I think my family life has definitely been jeopardized. I think my children are affected. I don’t see that they’re affected, but I know they are because they don’t say much,” Beth said. “I just want to be where I can somehow function and live my life, however long that’s going to be.”
“It was so overwhelming for me to suddenly become a primary caregiver for my spouse. What has kept me going is that there is so much to do and it’s just a matter of being focused. you just [put] one foot in front of the other every day to get to the place,” Paul said. “Now we’re going to the Mayo Clinic next week and this is just going to be another chapter and we’re going to start a new chapter.”
On the way to the Mayo Clinic
You will reach the end of this chapter on January 23rd. Beth and Paul are taken to the medical center in Rochester, Minnesota for their surgery. She has to stay there for 30 days and Paul should be discharged from the hospital on the second or third day.
The couple hopes that by sharing their story, it will give hope to others and encourage more people to become organ donors.
“[The motivation was] to say to people who might be lining up for a first kidney transplant today, even 36 years ago, kidney transplants took 36 years,” Paul said. “Imagine how lucky you are to have a transplant today and how good that kidney will be if you take good care of it.”
While there’s hope this will help others going through the same experience, what’s been keeping Beth going all along?
“My husband’s love, because from day one he was — ‘I’ll give it. Even if we have other people tested, I’ll give it,'” Beth said.
Aysha Ashley Househ of Naperville News 17 reports.
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