A happily married couple are planning the rest of their lives together after a man donated his healthy kidney to his ailing husband less than a year after they first met.
Reid Alexander, 24, and Rafael Diaz, 28, met on a dating app, got married, and shared a kidney after learning they were a perfect match in more ways than one. Alexander suffers from a rare condition known as Alport syndrome. He learned of the diagnosis at age 17 just before his junior year in high school. The disease damages and scars the kidneys, and also affects sight and hearing. There is currently no cure.
"I wear hearing aids now and everything," Alexander told KMGH-TV. "I feel like I'm an 85-year-old person in a 24-year-old body. But that's just my normal."
Alexander spent most of his life growing up in Kokomo, Indiana, but just before graduating with a BA from Indiana University last year, he decided to move to Colorado. His condition had worsened and he needed a change.
"I got a job two days before I was moving and I was really determined to do it," he told People. "I did it on a whim."
Diaz had moved to Colorado a few years earlier but was returning to Mexico when Alexander swiped right on his profile. The two met in a local park on August 23, 2020. Diaz was impressed that Alexander could understand his Spanish, and his return trip to Mexico was promptly canceled. The pair have been together almost every day since.
The topic of Alexander's condition came up while the pair were cooking. Diaz was adding salt to the meal, and Alexander stopped him.
"Salt is one of the things I really have to be careful about," Alexander told NBC News. "So I told him not to do that, and he asked why. So I talked about it, and we talked about why I wear hearing aids and all that."
The pair were married on April 9 in a small courthouse ceremony, but their lives together have been dominated by Alexander's worsening medical condition. He went to dialysis three times per week, with each session lasting up to five hours. After watching Alexander return home from these sessions increasingly dizzy and tired, Diaz got tested and discovered he was a perfect match for a kidney transplant.
"He really didn't want me to do it!" Diaz told NBC News. "He was like, 'No, no, you don't have to.' But I got tested anyway, and the doctors said we were a perfect match."
The pair's happiness quickly faded, however, when they learned no hospital in Colorado could perform the dual surgeries.
"I was very frustrated and upset," Alexander said.
But one day while the couple was at the bank, Alexander received an unexpected email from Indiana University saying they could perform the surgeries.
"It was very emotional for both of us as we're at a bank teller," Alexander said.
The pair returned to the Hoosier state and the extraction and transplant surgeries took place at the Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital, the same facility where at age 17 Alexander first received treatment for Alport Syndrome.
Diaz told People he was "in a lot of pain" but that it was worth it. "If I had to do it again, I would."
The pair are now recuperating from their dual surgeries at the home of Alexander's parents in Indiana. His immune system is extremely compromised due to the drugs he is taking for the transplant, and both he and Diaz cannot travel for another few weeks. Neither man can work at the moment, and a GoFundMe page has been set up to help offset their rising expenses. The page is appropriately named "Two-Men-and-a-Kidney."
The pair said they are looking forward to getting back to Colorado where they can spend the rest of their lives together.
"I think that the next step for us in this journey is to enjoy as much as we can because we never know what can happen next," Diaz told People.
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