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Wife becomes unexpected living donor for husband's life-saving kidney transplant: 'Share your spare'

Dexter Holaday needed a kidney transplant due to polycystic kidney disease, which has a long waiting list for organ donors.

Wife becomes unexpected living donor for husband's life-saving kidney transplant: 'Share your spare'
Cover Image Source: YouTube/Good Morning America

The process of waiting for an organ transplant can be a challenging and protracted ordeal for both patients and their families. As there is a scarcity of organ donors, the waiting list can become prolonged and patients may have to wait for several months or even years until they find a suitable match.

In late 2021, Dexter Holaday was informed that he required a kidney transplant after living with a rare genetic disorder known as polycystic kidney disease. He told Good Morning America, "The average timeframe for a kidney, with my blood type, is five years for a deceased donor. So, it's kind of a waiting game."


Living donor kidneys are typically healthier than deceased donor kidneys, resulting in higher long and short-term survival rates. However, there are very few living donor kidney transplants that usually take place in the United States. Despite the scarcity of living donor kidneys, Holaday and his wife June initiated their quest for a suitable match. June said, "We had flyers, we had sent out over 400 Christmas cards." The National Kidney Foundation reports that over 90,000 individuals across the country are presently awaiting a kidney transplant, with an average wait period of three to five years for a deceased donor kidney. Moreover, over 22 people in the United States succumb to death each day while waiting for a transplant.

Although the odds were minimal, June chose to undergo testing to determine if she could be a living donor for her spouse, despite having distinct blood types and being pressed for time. After several months of examinations, June received the news that she had surpassed expectations. She was a suitable match for Holaday, authorized to provide her spouse with the ultimate gift - the gift of life. She said, "I think we finally breathed a sigh of relief for the first time in the whole journey."


Living donor transplant surgeries are carried out simultaneously in adjacent rooms to guarantee that the organ is transplanted swiftly and securely. On March 28, the Holadays entered the life-saving operation theater together for the transplant procedure. June's nephrectomy was performed by Dr. Leigh Anne Dageford, a surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Dr. Dageford described Holaday's story as "beautiful." Dageford said, "To be a true perfect match, it's one out of 100,000, but given the advances we have these days, we don't always have to have that exact perfect match. It is an amazing love story. Her willingness to do this, to continue to have a wonderful life with him. For the rest of their lives together is beautiful."


June's kidney was transplanted into her husband Dexter by Dr. Nahel Elias, who serves as the surgical director of the kidney transplant program at Massachusetts General Hospital. Elias said, "It is not only life-changing. It's life-enhancing and it's life-extending."

Holaday expressed deep gratitude towards his wife for her selfless act and described it as amazing. Meanwhile, June referred to her donated kidney as a spare and hopes to inspire others to become living donors. She said, "Anyone can function on one kidney. I want to shout it from the rooftops like, 'Share your spare, share your spare!' Someone in this country will need you at some point."

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