Woman donates her kidney to her husband: “We love each other and we love life”

Twelve months ago, Melina donated her kidney to her husband. Today, they are well, and are telling us about their lives, about the obstacles, but also their strength and tenacity.

Massimo Guffanti Melina Virruso

Max and Melina, one year later. We returned to Tradate, to the home of husband and wife, Massimo Guffanti and Melina Virruso, the protagonists of one of the most touching stories that we have ever come across. Melina donated one of her kidneys to Max, thereby saving his life.

After exactly twelve months their lives are continuing without problems. As living donors, they could provide the testimonials for organ donation campaigns: happy, committed to what they did, aware, and more united than ever. And they taught us all a lesson on life, one we should treasure.

“My values are good, and the doctors at the San Matteo Hospital, in Pavia, are satisfied; I reacted well. They tell me I’m an example, and often mention me to other patients to spur them on,” said Max, 53, who is affected by cystic fibrosis (ten years ago, he underwent a transplant of both lungs in order to survive). “Every day, I’m moved by the thought that I have a part of my wife inside my body. What’s most important to me is that she’s well, that she’s had no problems. Her calmness helped me a lot.”

And it is the calmness with which she speaks about the tough decision to donate an organ to somebody else that is most surprising about this 55-year-old woman. She is very strong, she has been toughened by life and by having to face obstacles that most people would find insuperable, or nearly. She was born without any legs, and has lived with two prosthetic limbs since she was 5. “There are many things I can’t do: running, riding a bike. But what can you say? I keep going, and I adapt.”

Melina has been by Massimo’s side for 22 years, facing many difficult and complex battles with him. “When the possibility of donating a kidney to my husband arose, I didn’t think about it for more than a second,” she said. “I admit I was a bit worried, there was some fear because of my condition, but the power of my love for him and the conviction that fate had led me to this decision never changed my mind. It’s natural for me, the choice needed to be made and I made it. I know I’m strong, I’ve seen that even more over the last few months; life put me to the test, I had to build a pretty tough armour for myself. But I like life and I’m as devoted to it as I can be. My husband accepted me for who I was; when there was the chance, I decided to help him in the way that I could, by donating part of me to him. Fate decided that we should be compatible and that it could all be done without excessive risk to me. I am glad I did it.”

One year after the operation, things are going well; both Massimo and Melina overcame the post-operation phase brilliantly, the periodic checks show that everything is going smoothly. With their little dog Kyra by their side, they can look to the future with hope and conviction. “We’re fighters, and we’ll always be,” Max concluded. “I’m aware of the gift I was given; I’ll always be there for her.”

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