(DANVILLE, Ind.) — An Indiana woman who made a promise to donate one of her kidneys to a stranger has married him three years after his successful transplant surgery.
Chelsea Clair and Kyle Froelich met at a car show in 2009, when she was 22 and he was 19. A family friend had told her that he needed a kidney transplant from a family friend, and she offered to help.
“When I actually met him, I just knew, and I had told him that I wanted to give him a kidney,” she told ABC News.
Froelich said he was appreciative of the gesture, but he didn’t hold on to hope that she would follow through.
“I just assumed that it actually wasn’t going to happen,” he told ABC News.
Froelich’s doctors did not have a positive prognosis for the then-teen. He was only 12 when a screening first revealed his kidneys might fail. He was on dialysis by age 17, and one year later, he was in search of a transplant.
But it turned out that Clair understood the importance of life-saving donations more than he realized, because her father passed away from cancer needing a bone marrow transplant.
“I just felt like I would have wanted somebody to step up [for my father], so I just wanted to help him,” Clair said of Froelich.
Despite her family’s concern, both she and Froelich underwent the transplant procedure less than one year after they first met.
“We both have been doing very great since the surgery,” Clair said. “I don’t feel any different before I gave a kidney.”
But that’s not the case for Froelich.
“I feel a lot different than before I got a kidney,” he said. “Prior to the transplant, the doctors were saying with my blood type and my age, at minimum, I was looking at three to five years to receive a kidney.”
The waiting list of candidates in need of a kidney transplant is nearly 99,000, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. But in 2013 alone, more than 9,000 kidney transplants have been performed and more than a third were from living donors like Clair.
But Clair and Froelich turned out to be a perfect match in more ways than one, and after the procedure the two started dating.
On Oct. 12, the couple tied the knot at the Danville Conservation Club in Danville, Ind., which hosted the car show where they met, according to the Indianapolis Star.
“There’s a bond that no one else, unless they’ve done it, can know,” Froelich, now 23, told the Star. “She’s my best friend.”
“He’s carrying around my kidney,” Clair, now 26, told the Star. “I have to make sure he takes care of that.”
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