Eau Claire couple celebrates 10th kidney "transplant-iversary" - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Eau Claire couple celebrates 10th kidney "transplant-iversary"


Eau Claire (WQOW) -- March is National Kidney Month and an Eau Claire couple is celebrating a very special anniversary this year; their tenth kidney transplant-iversary. 

Ten years ago, Jim McDonald was living with polycystic kidney disease. After two and a half years of dialysis, Jim received a new kidney and another shot at living life to its fullest. 

"My daughter once told me I was living on borrowed time," Jim told News 18, "and it's like, 'Okay. I'm just going to enjoy every day, I'm not going to worry about the little things. You know, look forward, don't look back."

But none of that would be possible without his wife, Etta. 

"We did the dialysis thing, and because Etta's a nurse she would like to be educated on things that are happening," Jim explained. 

"We used to go to kidney conferences, through the National Kidney Foundation," said Etta McDonald. "And there was someone -- a wife who had donated to her husband. And I was like, 'Well maybe I can try that." 

"I wanted to keep him around longer so, we went through the process," she said. 

"When Etta said that she would like to do that, it's like -- well, when anybody offered to help you with a kidney it's pretty humbling," Jim said. "You know, what do you say? You know how would  you ask somebody for a kidney? But she's a nurse and she's a woman and she's very strong minded and I can't tell her -- you can't tell 'em no." 

So on February 28, 2008 Etta and Jim both went under the knife, determined to come out stronger on the other side. 

"The day we went into the hospital, we were both quite at peace," Jim said. "You know, it was just let's get it done and go from here." 

In the decade since the transplant, the couple has enjoyed more vacations together and watched their family grow. 

"We have two children and two grandchildren. Lily's 12 and Aaron's 6 and so he probably wouldn't have been able to see him," Etta said, choking back tears. 

"I'm just happy to have him around longer and be able to save his life," she said. 

They've also made it their mission to raise awareness about the importance of organ donation. 

"I hope I can inspire others to do what you need to do, get through it and get your transplant," Jim said. "Heaven doesn't need organs, so think about organ donation. You can make a difference in a lot of lives." 

Since the transplant, the McDonalds have also become active participants in the Transplant Games of America. They've traveled around the country for the friendly competition Etta said is meant to showcase how much organ recipients can accomplish after their transplants. 

Jim and Etta will head to Salt Lake City, Utah this summer for this year's games. 

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