WINDSOR, Conn. — Not only is Feb. 14 Valentine’s Day, but it is also National Donor Day.
A woman from Windsor is a living example of the saying “love knows no bounds” after she donated her organ to someone else’s husband, so that she could save her own husband’s life.
“I love my husband, we have two children; you know… I wanted to do what I could do,” Susan Roman said.
In the early 1990s, Roman’s husband William Roman had a major health scare.
“I went into kidney failure,” William Roman said.
Within two years, he was in need of a transplant, which he received from a teenage girl who tragically died in a car crash.
“I’m just very grateful every day that… gift was made,” William Roman said.
Two decades passed, and then he got sick again.
“We had a more difficult time finding a kidney,” Susan Roman said.
She was not a perfect match for another transplant, but the couple was hopeful that someone else would be.
“I was told about a program called NEPKE,” Susan Roman said, adding that it is known as the New England Paired Kidney Exchange.
“If I put my kidney (so to speak) into the ring – and was amicable to donating a kidney to somebody else – then somebody might end up donating a kidney to my husband,” she said.
Once registered, two local matches came up for William Roman, but they were coupled with disappointment because the surgeries were canceled.
“To get the call just a few hours before we were supposed to head to the hospital was really tough,” William Roman said.
However, they both kept the faith.
“The third time we found a match and that turned out to be a great match,” Susan Roman said.
But it was a match that would also need Susan’s help.
The man who was to receive Susan’s kidney lived in Maryland.
Her sister-in-law, who lived in Pennsylvania, would be donating to William.
In July 2011, on the day of their son’s birthday, the Romans both went into surgery.
“I was afraid, I would say, because we have two children, and the both of us are going into surgery at the same time and they’re risks with anything,” Susan Roman said.
However, surgery went well and now two different men have a new lease on life thanks to the two women.
“I think it was very brave, and to do it for me was very loving,” William Woman said. “You know, 27 years together, it’s just a special relationship.”
“You forget about how hard it was, or how much pain you’re in, because every day I look at him and I think, ‘We have him,'” Susan Roman said.
Four years after surgery, the couple said they keep in touch with their donor and recipient.
“We have not met the families, but we have been writing to them,” Susan Roman said.
The letters are a constant reminder of how strangers can hold the key to the greatest gift of all – life.