Husband's greatest ever gift to his wife
A MARRIED couple turned out to be a perfect match after the husband donated a kidney to his wife.
Maggi and Reg Woods, from Notter near Saltash, are once more able to enjoy weekends away and holidays after the successful transplant operation at Derriford.
Maggi, 52, said: "He saved my life.
"I'm truly humbled. How am I ever going to repay him?
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"Words can't express how I feel."
Maggi had suffered from diabetes since she was a child but it was not diagnosed until shortly after she married Reg, who is now aged 56, in the late 1970s.
She had taken medication but the illness was not serious until she became pregnant in 2000.
Her diabetes led to complications, she lost the baby and her own condition worsened.
"You don't realise how ill you are," Maggi said.
"For two years I hid from Reg the fact that I was sleeping for two whole days a week while he was at work."
After moving to Plymouth from London, Maggi started attending the Renal Unit at Derriford Hospital and in 2006 she started to have dialysis.
She tried home dialysis but it did not fully work and at one point liquid retention meant she swelled up to 145 kilos in weight.
Dialysis at the hospital was more effective but she had a number of complications, and had to attend the hospital three times a week.
She said: "You're very prone to infection. I knew I couldn't continue on dialysis for ever."
Maggi went on the transplant list, but knew the chances of getting a kidney weren't good. Then Reg said he would donate one of his.
Initially they thought they might be able to take advantage of a change in the law that allowed couples to swap with others where one spouse needed a transplant, but Reg turned out to be a match with Maggi and was able to donate his kidney to her directly.
Reg, who worked as a street cleaner until he was laid off last year, said: "I thought it was only actual family members who could donate.
"When I found out that I could donate I made up my mind. I went for all the tests and that was it."
On March 17 this year, Maggi and Reg went into hospital for their operations.
Maggi said: "Reg went into theatre at about 9am and I wasn't going down until 1pm. I sat in the waiting room playing Sudoku and trying not to think what was happening to him."
For her part, Maggi said, she had written letters to her friends and relatives in case she didn't see them again.
"I knew there was a risk," she said.
When she went for her operation, she was told Reg was OK.
His kidney had 'popped out' so easily it surprised the surgeon.
The next thing Maggi remembers is waking up – with warm feet.
She said: "My circulation had suddenly improved.
"My eyesight was also immediately better. I needed new glasses."
Maggi and Reg both had keyhole surgery, leaving minimal scaring. They were in separate wards after their operations, but staff wheeled Reg over to see his wife.
Maggi said: "They brought him down to see me and we had some very nice moments there, holding hands.
"It's better for your health if you see the other person and what they're feeling like."
She added: "When we got home he showed me his scars and I burst into tears, because I understood what those scars meant he had gone through for me."
Both made a quick recovery from the operation and, although Maggi still has to take a cocktail of drugs, her life has changed dramatically.
She said: "I feel amazing.
"I drove home from London the other day. We'd managed to get away for a weekend to see family. We couldn't before. I would've had to work it around my dialysis and I'd be quite ill by the second day."
She is also able to eat foods which she couldn't before, from strawberries and rhubarb to bacon and prawns.
Maggi and Reg's story is all the more remarkable considering that they divorced in 1983.
"We were back together after three days, and he stalked me all that time anyway," said Maggi.
"It's just as well, considering the outcome."
The couple have since re-married.
Maggi and Reg are extremely grateful to the staff at Derriford Hospital who helped them.
Maggi said: "We're keen to promote the work of the people on the Renal Unit, and that goes right down to the lady who brings the tea, as well as the consultants.
"They're all wonderful people."
The couple recently moved to Cornwall and have been enjoying their new life there.