Pharmacist Donates Kidney to Customer After Falling in Love

On Oct. 21, after 3½ months of medical testing for Wallace, including a mammogram and kidney function tests, and psychological evaluations for both, they were wheeled into the operating room at the St. Francis campus of Via Christi Regional Medical Center in Wichita, some 50 miles south of McPherson.

"I thought she was an angel, I swear," Lister said. "I knew that God had sent her or something."

Wallace went in first to have her kidney removed and Lister followed to receive the organ. Wallace said she chose to have an open incision versus a faster-healing laparoscopy because there was less chance of complications for the kidney.

"The first thing I did, after anesthesia, was to ask if she was okay," Lister said, adding that it's something he doesn't remember doing.

The couple's doctor, Dr. Charles Shield, said although they see all different types of transplant couples, Lister and Wallace's story was certainly unique and it was fun to get to know them.

Shield, a professor of surgery at the University of Kansas School of Medicine at Wichita, and the hospital's director of transplantation and operating room director, said the hospital will do 40 kidney transplants this year, up from 30 in 2007.

Four days after surgery, Lister and Wallace were well enough to go home, where they were aided by their parents, friends and Wallace's pharmacy co-workers.

Lister already is back at work as a groundskeeper for the McPherson Recreation Commission. Wallace was out of action for eight weeks. Between her medical leave and some saved up vacation, she's not due back to the pharmacy until after the first of the year.

"We're feeling excellent," Wallace said. "Justin is so much better off."

The greenish-grey tinge his skin had before the surgery has given way to a healthy pink glow, she said.

Shield said Lister's greatest risk of complications come from the possibility that his body may one day reject Wallace's kidney. He now takes more than a dozen medications daily, a number that will dwindle to about six in a few months once he's considered stable.

"Otherwise, they're like normal people after a fairly short amount of time," he said.

While the couple is preparing for "the greatest Christmas ever" -- they already put up lights -- Lister said they will also make a holiday out of Oct. 21.

"That's his new birth date," Wallace said.

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