She Was His Match for Kidneys and for Love

Ashley McIntyre and Danny Robinson

Ashley McIntyre and Danny Robinson fell in love through a kidney transplant.
(Photo by USA Today)

When Ashley McIntyre heard the tragic story of a perfect stranger who needed a kidney transplant, she was moved to donate her kidney to him. She ended up being a match—not only for a kidney, but also for love.

A living kidney donation often comes from family members, but it is becoming more common for non-related kidney transplant to occur thanks to improved anti-rejection medications. In Ashley’s case, she went from stranger, to living donor, to fiancée. It’s a kidney transplant love story.

Ashley’s mother had heard a radio story about Danny Robinson, a man in need of a kidney transplant because of an inflammatory kidney disease called IgA nephropathy. She passed the news on to Ashley that Danny’s house had burned down in 2011 on Christmas Day, he had lost his father to brain cancer in 2012, and he was now working full-time while undergoing kidney dialysis for twelve hours a week. Ashley explained that “it was just like one thing after another for them.”

Danny’s story resonated with Ashley and she decided to become a living donor. Ashley explained that she did her research on the process and said that “as long as the doctor said I was fine and I was going to be fine and that it would work for Danny, it was like, why not give up a kidney to someone who needs it?”

It wasn’t certain that Ashley’s kidney would be a match or even that she was a suitable donor, but Ashley underwent tests with the University of Kentucky Transplant Center. She found out that she was a match every step of the way.

Ashley didn’t want to meet Danny or his family until she was as certain as possible that the surgery would happen for fear of getting Danny’s hopes up. A month before the kidney transplant surgery, they finally met each other’s families. Ashley said that “as soon as we started talking, it was like our families had known each other forever.” She realized that Danny was truly a good and genuine person.

The transplant surgery happened in April of 2014, and it proved to be a success. IgA nephropathy had caused Danny to have chronic kidney failure, but now that he had a new kidney, he would no longer need dialysis. After the surgery, the love story blossomed at a Memorial Day barbeque where they officially started dating. The two said that not long after, it was evident that their love was “it.” On Christmas Day of 2014, Danny told Ashley that he had one more gift for her after they had opened all the presents. He handed her a ring box, and when she opened it, he proposed to Ashley.

This is the perfect love story to read for National Kidney Month. It not only shows the generous actions of a living donor, but the happy new beginning it brought to this couple. Ashley’s selfless donation brought a full life back to Danny, where he wasn’t confined to living on dialysis.

Of the 123,175 people waiting for lifesaving organ transplants in the U.S., 101,170 await kidney transplants, according to the National Kidney Foundation’s 2014 organ donation statistics. Danny’s fight, thanks to Ashley’s donation, was lucky enough to be brought to an end. And now, they are not only friends, but will soon be husband and wife.

Donating a kidney doesn’t guarantee you a love story, but the patient on the receiving end will be extremely grateful. Even if you don’t know the person or their family, donating a kidney is a priceless gift that will be remembered by the recipient forever. The love story of Ashley and Danny is a beautiful ending to someone’s struggle with kidney failure from IgA nephropathy. It reminds us how special kidney donation can be to both the living donor and recipient.

At Everlasting Footprint, we celebrate Danny’s freedom from dialysis and share the couple’s inspiring story. Learn about how to become an organ donor after your death, or you can consider becoming a living donor to help someone battling kidney disease. Other things you can do to help include registering to be an organ donor, donating bone marrow or blood, or making a monetary donation to various kidney organizations such as the National Kidney Foundation. Share your story of kidney donation, receipt, or your battle with kidney disease on our Faces of Kidney Disease group Footprint.

About Catherine Powell

Catherine Powell, BA, loves to write and edit, especially with a cup of espresso on hand. Her English degree with a psych minor means she studies the rapidly-changing digital world and the workings of the human mind. Born in Germany, Catherine is inspired by the language, the culture, and her travels. She and her husband live in Tallahassee, Florida, with their Labrador-mix dog.

One Comment

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