EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

May 12, 2013

This Mother's Day, husband gave wife gift she really needed -- a kidney

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“It was more inconvenient than anything,” she said, but she was hopeful about a kidney transplant. “I could see the light at the end of tunnel.”

She was originally scheduled for surgery on Halloween 2012, with her sister Lynn, 39, as the donor. But some changes in antibodies in her blood were a concern for doctors. The same thing happened with her brother Patrick, 37. If she had gone through the transplant then, “everything came with a 40 percent higher risk,” she explained.

Her search for a kidney started again. Jon selflessly stepped up.

“He was a better match than either of my siblings,” she said.

Jon said he was never hesitant or scared about giving Julie a kidney and undergoing surgery.

“It’s something we had to do together,” he said.

On Monday, husband and wife underwent surgery at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H. Jon’s left kidney was removed and transplanted into Julie’s left side. There’s a bit of a size difference between the two; Julie is 5 foot 7 inches tall and weighs 150 pounds. Jon weights 235 pounds and stands 6 feet, 2 inches.

“His kidney was the size of a football ... It took a while to get it in,” Julie said, chuckling. Nonetheless, in an interview two days after the surgery, Julie said she was feeling great.

On Thursday, the couple was released and returned to their Fremont, N.H. home. “Everybody heals faster at home,” Jon said.

With her new kidney, Julie was also eating things she couldn’t have for months, including potatoes, cheese, bananas and yogurt. Before, she had to monitor her potassium intake carefully because her kidneys couldn’t handle it.

The couple still has four to six weeks recovery time at home. Going forward, both are expected to live healthy normal lives.

Julie said the support from family and friends the couple has received is just amazing.

Today, on Mother’s Day, the Schillers plan to just relax. And as for a gift today, Julie said she’s all set on that front.

“I don’t have the gall to ask him for anything any more,” she said, laughing. “It’s just awesome!”

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Facebook under the screenname EagleTribJill.

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