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Couple Celebrates 5 Year Anniversary of Life-Saving Transplant

She gave him her kidney, he asked for her heart. On Valentine's Day 2013, St. Joseph native Travis Spire-Sweet received a gift that would save his life.

Posted: Feb 19, 2018 9:54 AM
Updated: Feb 19, 2018 2:53 PM

She gave him her kidney, he asked for her heart. On Valentine's Day 2013, St. Joseph native Travis Spire-Sweet received a gift that would save his life.

"I was terrified to tell her that I loved her because I wanted her to have an out," Spire-Sweet said. "I wanted her to be able to say 'you know, I can't do this'."

Spire-Sweet was born with chronic kidney disease and spent over a year on the wait list to receive a kidney transplant.

Little did he know, his luck was soon to change. After knowing each other for less than a year, Spire-Sweet's wife, Taesha Spire-Sweet (his then-girlfriend) donated to him her kidney.

It was a 1 in 30,000 chance that she would be a match for the transplant, but Taesha said she wouldn't have had it any other way.

"I mean...you have two. It really wasn't a question for me," Taesha said.

The couple's surgeon at the University of Kansas Medical Center recalled the surgery, and said donating a kidney is no small task.

"The things that people do as a living donor, they're having an operation that they don't need, and they're giving a gift and it hurts along the way," Dr. Sean Kumer, KU Medical Center, said. "It's a painful procedure for some folks, but it's the most ultimate gift you can give somebody."

Three months after the couple got the surgery, Travis got down on one knee after throwing the first pitch at a Royals game and popped the question.

"I had no idea. So when he kneeled down, I was thinking about them telling us to hurry up and get off the grass as soon as possible. So I was like 'get up off the grass right now," Taesha said.

The couple recently celebrated their five-year anniversary of the surgery this Valentine's Day, and looking back over their years together Travis said he had one more question to ask his wife.

"What's interesting is looking back at five years and wondering if you knew everything that would happen the moment we met, everything that would happen...the question is would you still do it," Travis asked.

For Taesha, the answer was simple.

"Absolutely," Taesha said. "I've talked to a number of people, and I would do it all over again."

The couple now lives in North Kansas City. Travis said the kidney has been working well, and both of them are doing great.

"It's been probably the best five years of my life," Travis said.

Valentine's Day is also known as National Donor Day. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 100,000 Americans are on the waiting list for a kidney transplant each year, but only about 16,000 surgeries are conducted.

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