Source: Times-Reporter

By Stacey Carmany
Posted May 01, 2010 @ 10:54 PM

When Randy and Jayne Clantz say they are “a match made in heaven” they don’t just mean they are soulmates.

The Dennison couple share the same blood type, and this August, Jayne will give her husband a very special gift for their 13th wedding anniversary: one of her kidneys.

The likelihood that a husband and wife would have compatible organs is minute, but Jayne decided to get tested anyway. It was an easy decision.

“I decided to get tested because I love him and I want him to be around,” she said tearfully.

The Clantzes say it is difficult to tell their story without getting emotional. But their tears of happiness reflect a feeling of good fortune, not just for having each other but also for having great doctors and supportive friends, family, neighbors and co-workers.

Randy and Jayne began dating in November 1996. They had known each other since high school but never dated, and they both married others and had children. Once they were reunited, it didn’t take long for the couple to fall in love, and they were married Aug. 2, 1997.

They lived together happily for years. Then one day, Randy, who had never missed a day of work as a heavy equipment operator for Beaver Excavating, started to feel ill. He was tired all the time. Jayne said his skin started to turn a grayish color. He would wake up early in the morning and run the vacuum feeling revved up, his pulse racing. Then he would get so tired that he had to go back to bed.

Doctors still don’t know for certain why Randy’s kidneys began to fail. They say the problem could have been caused by either high blood pressure or excessive use of ibuprofen.

Jayne said Randy did not have high blood pressure prior to becoming ill but developed it because of the kidney disease and now takes medicine twice a day. Aside from his kidney troubles, he is in perfect health. The couple attribute his condition to his taking ibuprofen every day for many years.

Doctors first detected his kidney disease after Randy kept getting gout and then developed high blood pressure and a fast heart rate. Jayne, a nurse in ambulatory surgery and the pain management clinic at Union Hospital, contacted his family doctor, and his first laboratory work was done on the day of his colonoscopy (a 50th birthday present from Jayne) and showed kidney disease. The lab work was repeated 10 days later and the results were doubled. He then had a kidney ultrasound, renal artery ultrasound and kidney biopsy which showed that all of the filters in his kidneys were destroyed.

The Clantzes are thankful for the army of doctors at both Union Hospital and the Cleveland Clinic who continue to take excellent care of Randy, testing his blood and kidney function. They are grateful that he has not had to be put on dialysis.

Last year, Randy’s glomerular filtration rate dropped low enough to qualify him to be put on the transplant list. GFR measures the rate at which blood is filtered through the kidneys. The GFR of a completely healthy kidney is 60. A GFR below 19 qualifies a person for a kidney transplant.

Last month, Randy’s GFR dropped to 14. Jayne said his GFR usually ranges from 14 to 18.

When Randy was put on the transplant list, the couple had to go to classes where they were told that Randy could have to wait years for a kidney. Patients typically wait a minimum of four years for an organ to become available, and some people on the list never get a transplant.

Jayne said they had many friends offer to get tested to see whether they would be a match for Randy, but it was easier for her to get tested.

“You don’t just walk up to someone and say, ‘Hey, can you donate an organ?” she said.

Then, in an incredible coincidence or a miracle, the couple received a phone call from the hospital informing them that Jayne was a match.

It was a Sunday afternoon last June. The couple had just returned home from NewPointe Community Church in Dover, where they decided to attend services to help them cope with Randy’s illness.

Randy, a self-proclaimed workaholic for 32 years, was dealing with depression. Randy and Jayne said NewPointe Pastor Dwight Mason and Christian counselor Faith Jones helped them get through it. Jones was recommended to the couple by Dr. Michael McCombs, an internal medicine specialist at Union Hospital.

That Sunday Randy had stood up and accepted Jesus Christ into his life and Jayne renewed her commitment. At 2 p.m., the phone rang.

They wept tears of joy.

Jayne and Randy will undergo surgery in August at the Cleveland Clinic. Randy will be in the hospital for a week, and his full recovery will take about a year. He will need to take high doses of anti-rejection drugs initially and go in for lab work three times a week. Jayne said she thinks he will recover nicely.
Jayne hopes her surgery can be performed laparoscopically. Her hospital stay is expected to be three days, but she plans to stay with Randy the full week. She will take six weeks off from work to help care for her husband.

She does not want to be viewed as a hero. She said she merely did what anyone would do for the person she loves.

Instead, she hopes to raise awareness about the importance of live organ donation, which she said is better because the organ doesn’t have to be transported from somewhere else.

The couple said they are very fortunate for the overwhelming support they’ve had from their family including their children: daughter Vonnie Weaver of Uhrichsville and her husband, Scott, son Jim Mulheman of Dover and his wife, Christy, son Jarrod Mulheman of Cleveland and his wife, Julie, and son Ron Mulheman of Uhrichsville and his wife, Kristin; Jayne’s parents, Don and Virginia Trimmer of New Philadelphia; Randy’s dad, Hal Clantz of New Philadelphia. His mother is the late Donna Clantz.

They are thankful for all the friends who take the time to see how they are doing; neighbors who offered to watch the house, mow the grass and let their dog out, and co-workers who have switched days or picked up shifts to accommodate Randy’s appointments.

“You can’t say how thankful you are,” the couple said. “Thanks just isn’t enough.”

The Clantzes don’t see the illness as a curse, but rather a blessing.

“It’s made me a better person,” Randy said. “I have a kinder heart now. I have more compassion toward other people.”

Randy said he and his wife sometimes will buy tickets to benefits they can’t go to just to support a cause.

“It’s brought us closer,” Jayne said. “You realize how short life can be and how unimportant material things are and how important family is.”

The history of kidney transplants

- The first documented kidney transplant in the United States was performed June 17, 1950, on Ruth Tucker, a 44-year-old woman with polycystic kidney disease, in Illinois.

- Successful kidney transplants were undertaken in 1954 in Boston on identical twins and in Paris.