The Valentine’s Day Gift

Following domestic violence crimes can lead to a mistaken belief that all marriages, all relationships are abusive. They are not. Many relationships are not abusive, in many relationships couples struggle together to resolve life’s problems, to raise children and to go through life together. Some days are good, some days are harder- but they aren’t abusive.

In an effort to show that, to show a more balanced view I like to look for other stories. Stories that show the good parts of a couple. However, those don’t often make the paper. Most couple’s live, argue, make up and go through life with a good relationship and never make the paper unless something bad happens in their life. But sometimes that struggle and their efforts to resolve their problems does make the news. And while this is a tremendous story of love and sacrifice, this is just one story that has become public.

Byron Hamilton, 57, is a dairy farmer. More than 25 years ago, he lost an arm to a farming accident. But farming is how he made his living, so he returned to farming after his recovery. Shortly afterwards he married and together the couple raised 4 children.

Several years ago Byron Hamilton’s developed kidney disease. And in September, they learned that more would have to be done. He would have to go on dialysis or he would  need a kidney transplant.

Persons needing kidney transplants can go on a waiting list for organ donations. But currently there are more than 70,000 names on the waiting list. The average wait for an organ is about 3 years. Last year 3,500 people died while waiting on a kidney.

There were 15,721 kidney transplants done last year. And of those transplants, 702 of them were done with organs donated by spouses.

In order to donate, the donor’s tissue must match the tissue of the recipient. Not all spouses will qualify. When Byron’s wife Pearl Hamilton was approached, she says she didn’t hesitate.

“There was no discussion. It’s all a matter of making him well.”

Testing showed that she was an excellent match. Originally scheduled for Feb. 2, the surgery had to be delayed for one more test. Appropriately enough it was rescheduled for Feb. 14. On Valentine’s Day of 2007, she and Byron underwent surgery to transplant her kidney into him.

The surgery was successful, the transplant was completed ahead of schedule. Both are recuperating and doing well. Both should be discharged from the hospital soon, though both will need extended recuperation time at home. Family and friends are chipping in to assist by caring for the farm and for the couple.                                                             

Every relationship will require some compromise and in some cases will require some sacrifice, though not often to this extent.

The true measure of the relationship is the couple’s survival. They married, they raised children, they argued and loved together, they lived together and stayed together. And when the time came that a sacrifice was needed, they were there for each other.

My best wishes for a quick recovery, and a continued long and happy life together for the Hamiltons.


1 Comment

  1. D.P. said,

    February 15, 2007 at 10:41 pm

    What a lovely story. Thanks for sharing that.

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