Naperville couple matches for organ transplant after husband suffers from failing kidneys due to stroke

Monday, April 26, 2021
Naperville couples matches for kidney transplant
A Naperville man matched with his wife for an organ transplant after suffering from failing kidneys.

NAPERVILLE, Ill. (WLS) -- Aaron Rhoden was in search for a kidney and his wife turned out to be a medical match.

The Naperville couple could not believe the match was right.

"We are just, you know, optimistic and in love about it all," Aaron said.

Nearly three years after getting married, the couple had a scare. Aaron, who suffers from high blood pressure, had a stroke in 2019. His kidneys were then failing when his wife, Tonya, turned out to be a donor match.

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"We just kind of looked at each other in amazement, and I thought wow, this is, this is divine," Tonya said.

"I mean we are truly going to become one in every sense of the word," Aaron said.

As a biracial couple, the Rhodens view the situation powerful, especially during a time of racial reckoning in America.

"We all bleed the same beyond the surface, beyond the skin, all the way down to our kidneys. When it matters most, we all bleed the same," Tonya said. "You can make a difference in people's lives that don't look like you, that don't believe like you."

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The couple encouraged people to donate. Their Northwestern nephrologist said you can donate even if you are not a match for loved ones.

"We can put in compatible pairs into a pool, where a computer system matches them up with other incompatible pairs, and we can find a match that way," said Dr. John Friedewald, medical director at Northwestern Kidney Transplant Program.

"This world is hurting right now in terms of racial tensions and all these other things that are going on in this country, and we just want to promote love," Aaron said.