One woman from Kansas may have just given her boyfriend the best Valentine’s Day gift ever: a kidney.
It turns out, Taesha Benson was the perfect match for Travis Spire-Sweet in more ways than one.
Spire-Sweet, 30, was born with only 25 percent of a functioning kidney and was not expected to live past his first birthday.
He had been coping with his kidney for years, and had been waiting for a qualified donor for more than a year until his girlfriend came along.
Thanks to Benson, 32, Spire-Sweet will live a healthier life.
Officials from the University of Kansas Hospital say the couple is already at home and recovering from the surgery that was performed last week.
Despite being such a serious procedure, Benson knew automatically that she had to donate her kidney to him.
“Initially you think, ‘How could I do that? I don’t have it in me,’” Benson said. “But over time I got to know Travis and his love of life. Not many people come along who have his integrity, character and optimism. Travis just happens to be my boyfriend. He has provided me with a new love of life.”
While Valentine’s Day falls on February 14, few people know that National Donor Day also falls on that day.
It was established in 1988 and is a day dedicated to raising awareness of organ and tissue donation.
Every day, 18 people die waiting for transplants because there is a shortage of donated organs.
“Living donation helps in two major ways by not taking a potential deceased donor kidney from the organ pool, so it can be used for another recipient without a living donor and it provides a living donor organ for a recipient who would otherwise have to wait years for a deceased donor kidney,” surgical transplantation director Dr. Sean Kumer said. “Living donor recipients enjoy a longer organ survival on average three to five years longer than the commensurate deceased donor kidney.”
On average, 79 people receive life-saving organ or tissue transplants each day.