The odds of finding a perfect match for a kidney transplant are quite slim, and the odds of finding a match in someone you know? Even slimmer.

However, spouses of 23 years, Monica and Cesar Calle, went against all odds and underwent the procedure that saved Monica from polycystic kidney disease, according to the Sun Sentinel.

For just under three years, Monica suffered frequent pain from nightly dialysis. The pain was so severe, she was almost ready to give up her treatment. However, in December, the couple found out that Cesar was a match for his wife in regard to kidney, blood, and antigens. Medical team leader Dr. Juan Arenas said:

“To find a match between spouses is very unusual but very lucky for us to be able to find that.”

Although the decision to give up a kidney was a big deal for Cesar, he happily agreed to the transplant surgery. Monica said:

“Little did we know 23 years ago that this was going to be the angel to save my life. I felt like I just won the lottery. I started dreaming of what my future would look like, not having to do dialysis. The fact that I can actually travel now and not worry about carrying boxes with me or supplies or worry if it’s gonna get lost. I felt so free.”

And so, after about 30 professionals banded together to perform the 2.5 hour surgery, the Calles became the first successful live donor kidney transplant at the hospital’s Memorial Transplant Institute.

Monica describes the success of the transplant as a chance for a “second life” for her. Cesar added to that sentiment, saying to the Sun Sentinel:

“That’s reborn faith, you might call it. It brings me joy and happiness. And it brings us closer together. Not just physically, obviously, but also spiritually.”

Monica is extremely lucky that Cesar was able and willing to donate a kidney, as there are 100,000 people across the United States that are on the waitlist for an organ transplant. She acknowledges her good fortune and hopes that her success story will give hope to those waiting. She offered these words of advice:

“I was in a lot of pain, I was scared, and I didn’t know if there was gonna be a miracle for me. I’m sure a lot of us that are in this situation always wonder, ‘When is our miracle happening?’ And I tell everybody, ‘Just hang on tight, fight your fight, because we are warriors, and your miracle will happen.’”

However, her struggle is now over. Just three weeks after her transplant, Monica said: “I feel like a million dollars. And I think I look like a million bucks, compared to before.”

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