Lockport couple donates kidney to siblings who also donated kidney to them

Michelle Gallardo Image
Friday, January 19, 2024
Lockport couple donates kidney to siblings who gave kidney to them
Tracey Gonzalez was able to donate a kidney to a man in Arizona whose sister in turn donated one of hers to Tracey's husband Anthony.

OAK LAWN, Ill. (WLS) -- After 23 years of marriage there isn't much Anthony and Tracey Gonzalez wouldn't do for each other, including quite literally giving up a kidney.

Thursday morning the Lockport couple returned to Oak Lawn's Advocate Christ Hospital where three months ago Tracey donated one of her kidneys to a man in Arizona, whose sister, in turn, donated one of hers to Anthony.

Meeting each other for the first time via live stream, husband and wife and brother and sister exchanged both laughter and tears.

"I said absolutely. Whatever I can do, I'm doing it, because he's my best friend, my person and I need someone to shovel the snow! I need him here," Tracey said.

There are more than 106,000 people on the national transplant list nationwide. Of those, the vast majority, 92,000, are waiting for a kidney.

But demand vastly outstrips availability. The Gonzalez were told they could wait up to eight years unless they could find a living donor.

"I took all the tests right away. And then when they told me I wasn't a match I started crying of course," Tracey said. "I was very emotional and then they told me about this program where you can trade your kidney and I said sign me up."

It took about a year before the match was found. The paired donation surgeries were completed by transplant teams working in unison across states. For Anthony, whose life on dialysis had been extremely limiting the transplant has been life changing.

"You might as well tie an anchor to your leg with that machine," he said. "We went to Vegas for my boss's wedding and we had to get all these boxes shipped there. And then I had to do it manually. It was a pain. It made me more depressed. I didn't want to do it. I didn't want to go nowhere."

Now that the couple are able to resume their normal lives, Anthony and Tracey said they are looking forward to rescheduling a motorcycling trip through Europe that had to be cancelled following the initial diagnosis.