As Told To is a recurring segment on xoNecole where real women are given a platform to tell their stories in first-person narrative as told to a writer. If you have a story you'd like to share, but aren't sure about how to put it into words, contact us at email@example.com with the subject "As Told To" for your story to be featured.
This is LaPorsha Campbell's story, as told to Charmin Michelle.
The week of our wedding, my husband was extremely ill and wasn't released from the hospital until two days before.
Desmond was diagnosed with Stage 3 kidney disease, which quickly progressed to Stage 5 within a year. The disease is a condition where your kidneys are damaged and no longer filtering blood as they should. Most people go without diagnosis until nearing the end stages of full-blown kidney failure.
The cause of my husband's disease: Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
We discovered his diagnosis in 2018. Desmond was hospitalized with pneumonia and his kidney took a major hit that unfortunately, never recovered. The feeling that he was dying a slow death certainly had its effects. Dialysis was very hard on his body, he began showing physical changes, and most crushing of all, his spirit was so broken. So the decision to give him my kidney was a no-brainer—easy even.
It was the recovery that was hard…
My husband and I didn't have the same blood type, so I was unable to donate my kidney directly to him. Instead, in an amazing turn of events, he received a kidney from an anonymous donor, and in return, I donated my kidney anonymously to someone who had also been waiting on the transplant list. Our donation was facilitated through a paired kidney exchange program. Also known as a "kidney swap", this arrangement occurs when a living kidney donor is incompatible with the recipient, so they exchange kidneys with another donor/recipient pair. This kidney-paired donation transplant enables two incompatible recipients to receive a faster transplant, thus decreasing the open wait list time.
My family weren't initially the biggest fans of the donation process; they were scared with what participation could mean. It was somewhat of a relief to them finding out we weren't a match, as they preferred that I avoided surgery altogether. But, when I explained that I'd be donating to an anonymous recipient, they couldn't really understand.
I Married My Husband "In Sickness", Hoping To One Day Get To The "And In Health".
Courtesy of LaPorsha Campbell
My husband has spent the last two years of our relationship in and out of the hospital. Before he started dialysis, we practically lived in the hospital. We were unable to go on a honeymoon because immediately following our wedding, he needed to begin emergency dialysis.
Regardless, I took my vows seriously throughout the entire process, with literally zero intention of folding. I've had so many people tell me they'd never do what I did for their partner, but I made a vow to my husband and our families—in front of God—to always love and be there for him.
And aside from anything else, before I decided to donate my kidney, I consulted with God. I didn't want to go against His will, especially with such a huge decision.
Throughout, I felt God's presence right beside us. When a complete stranger came forward and said she'd give her kidney to my husband, a person she did not know, I knew it was God.
Desmond received a kidney in less than a year despite being told it could take years due to his blood type.
That was God too.
Prior to my surgery, my husband was nervous; he doesn't like seeing me in pain. A few times, he suggested I change my mind about donating and that he could just wait on the list until his name came up, but at that point, me donating was bigger than him. I wasn't just saving his life. I was saving someone else's life, too.
Recovery was literally the hardest thing my body has ever had to go through, but it taught me to extend the same grace and patience to myself that I often gave to others. I prayed, I cursed, and I cried. My husband was my rock and showed me just as much assurance. His transplant surgery was a week before mine, but he somehow managed to care for me during my recovery. He did everything for me, while still recovering himself.
I was really bad at practicing self-care before my surgery, which almost caused a nervous breakdown. I was so fearful at times about my husband's health that it led to extreme anxiety and depression. This was all magnified because I couldn't talk with my husband about it. I didn't want him feeling guilty about being ill or for my concerns to affect his condition.
I was in a very dark place for a while.
I began taking antidepressants, which shockingly made all the difference. My depression became debilitating to my entire existence. I didn't feel like caring for myself—it took too much energy for me. I was just going through the motions and only trying to keep my family in one piece. I put on a brave face for my husband and daughter, yet inside, I was falling apart.
Returning To Health
Courtesy of LaPorsha Campbell
After a month of taking medication, I began feeling like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders and I could finally think clearly again. I began opening up to my husband about feeling overwhelmed. To my surprise, being open and honest with him brought us closer. I began to meditate daily; doing yoga. Being open about what I was going through, and learning to not be afraid to ask for help, saved me.
We are finally starting to feel like ourselves again, and my husband also finally has his life back. Before, he was spending 12 hours a week on a machine to keep him alive. And now, he's no longer being admitted to the hospital every other week.
Time has returned to his side.
These days, we're getting settled with the aftermath of the last two years. The incurred debt, medical bills, emotional scars, etc. etc.
But most importantly, we're enjoying each other's lives—and our health.
I now preach to everyone the importance of knowing your health numbers, especially to people of color. One of the leading causes of kidney failure is high blood pressure. Both high blood pressure and diabetes are treatable with medication and lifestyle changes, but first, you have to know your numbers.
This means staying on top of your yearly physicals and making sure your doctor is checking your kidney function during your screening. You are your greatest advocate in terms of your health. Reduce your stress and live a healthy lifestyle.
To be honest with you guys, what I did for my husband was nothing new. It was nothing noble. Married couples do this for each other all of the time. If you aren't willing to temporarily face discomfort for your spouse—especially to save their life—you shouldn't be married. Marriage is an adjustment and it's work. Make sure you've chosen the right partner BEFORE walking down the aisle. Afterward, make a conscious decision to continue choosing that person over and over again.
My marriage is far from perfect, but I love my husband and I will always choose him. We're in this thing together, and I'm rockin' with him until the wheels fall off.
To learn more about LaPorsha and Desmond's kidney journey, you can watch this video. LaPorsha has also documented more details on her Instagram page.
If you have a story you'd like to share, but aren't sure about how to put it into words, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "As Told To" for your story to be featured.
Featured Image Courtesy of LaPorsha Campbell