They planned to spend their lives together, but their future looked grim. A Colorado Springs woman was recovering in the hospital Wednesday after a bold move to save her husband's life.
When Nicholas Villegas met his wife Lohana, he knew they were a perfect match. He weighed almost 400 pounds at the time and his mom said Lohana wouldn't be interested in him. He is a man of faith, so he prayed.
"(I prayed), 'Lord, Father, God, if there is any way you can, send me a woman that is that beautiful and that kind-hearted,'" said Nicholas. "As soon as I said 'amen,' she texted me. It's been great ever since."
Things haven't always been easy for Nicholas. He said his mom is now a wonderful Christian woman. However, growing up, he said she mentally and physically abused him and his brother.
"The only way I coped with that was by eating," said Nicholas. "I didn't know what high blood pressure meant, me being a young kid, poor kid."
Problems during his childhood would eventually lead to big problems down the road. He was obese and he had high blood pressure. His kidneys failed when he was 19.
"If a doctor has a serious face, comes in, closes the door, you know the next thing coming out of his mouth is most likely not going to be good," said Nicholas, remembering the day he found out he had kidney failure. "He said, 'We have to put you in surgery right away. If you stay like this, in a few hours you could die.'"
Nicholas has spent almost seven years on dialysis.
"Being on dialysis, you're on a machine three times a week for 4 1/2 hours -- I started at five hours -- so it's taking a lot of time out of your day. It's not letting you become who you want to become. It takes a toll," said Nicholas.
Lohana knew Nicholas was her soul mate. After they got married, she asked if she could donate her kidney to him. Nicholas shot down the idea right away.
Nicholas thought Lohana could have complications during pregnancy if she gave up one of her kidneys. The two have a 20-month-old son and plan to have more children.
Nicholas's mother and brother weren't able to donate because of their weights.
Nicholas lost enough weight to go on a kidney transplant list, only to find out the waiting game would continue.
In the U.S., 122,000 people are on the list for organ transplants. Of that number, 98,000 people are waiting for a kidney transplant.
There are 1,700 people waiting for a kidney on Colorado/Wyoming's list. There are only 6,000 living donor transplants a year. Nicholas would likely have to wait until someone passed away before getting matched for a kidney.
He spent two years on a wait list for a kidney transplant before he caved.
"I said yes, thinking there was no way on earth that she was ever going to be a match," said Nicholas.
The couple started a series of tests to see if Lohana could be a donor. After six months, they got the all-clear.
"Usually you run into something that would stop it right away. And nothing stopped it," said Lohana.
On Monday the couple went into the surgery at Presbyterian/St.Luke's Medical Center in Denver. Before surgery, Nicholas was nervous while Lohana stayed positive.
"I was more worried about my wife," said Nicholas. "If anything were to happen to her because of her giving me the kidney, it would break my heart."
The recovery process has been painful but the couple knows it will be worth it. They said it's the start of a new chapter in their lives. Lohana has spent the first years of her marriage juggling a job, raising their son, coordinating rides for her husband to dialysis and taking care of him.
Now that he husband is on the mend, she plans to go back to school to be a nurse. She said it's because she is passionate about helping people. Nicholas will be able to work since he won't spend so many hours at dialysis.
"I am living because of her. I'm going to live 60-plus years. I'm going to be able to raise my kids and have more kids with her. I'm going to be able to live my dream because God blessed me with her," said Nicholas.
The two promised to love each other in sickness and in health. Now this perfect match shares even more than love.
The couple's friends set up a Facebook page for people to donate. It's called "Love and Sacrifice. Donate Life."
Click here for a link to the page: https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Love-and-Sacrifice-Donate-Life/545573168830616