Vissers share love and the gift of life

Little did this couple know, they were a match in more than just their love for one another.

By Adam Eisenbarth

Henry and Grace Visser are a match made in heaven.

Little did the couple know, they were a match in more than just their love for one another.

Henry has polycystic disease, a genetic disorder of the kidneys. When Henry’s kidneys started to fail last fall, the couple decided to see if their kidneys were a match.

After a cross-match revealed they were indeed compatible, Grace got the phone call one day from her husband.

“When he phoned me at work and told me it was a match we were both so excited and I just couldn’t believe it. And then the more I thought about it, I thought, oh boy.”

While Grace was excited her kidney was a match, it was also difficult news to know she would have to go through major surgery.

“It was never that I didn’t want to. It was just dealing with going through this. I had never been through a major surgery before.”

Henry knows he has been blessed with a wonderful wife who has stuck by him through everything.

“She means everything. Of course she was great before, but for her to do this, I’m just so thankful.”

After the surgery, it remained a difficult time for the family as complications continued.

“He had a rough bout where the kidney was trying to reject. He had a numb leg. A nerve nicked in surgery, which isn’t uncommon. He had to walk with a cane.”

Now he has overcome those issues, and is back to a normal life.

“Today he is back working full-time. He walks without a cane and has so much more energy. It’s like night and day,” Grace said.

Henry agrees and now understands just how bad his health was getting.

“It’s completely changed my life for the better. I didn’t realize just how sick I was.”

As Henry gets back to normal life, he won’t soon forget the struggles he went through.

“I have more energy than I’ve had for three years. My strength is slowly coming back. I still get tired but it’s not the same kind of fatigue.”

As for Grace, her health is not seriously affected by the operation, though she does have to watch her health and salt intake more closely. It’s worth it to see her husband happy again.

“I don’t know what I’d do without him.”

Grace says the events leading up to today have changed her perspective on life and her relationship.

“We used to take each other for granted. I don’t know what I’d do without him.”

The journey has been a long one, and Grace understands that it’s not over but she enjoys every healthy day the two get to spend together.

“It’s not a cure. We don’t know how long the kidney will last, but we are just thankful for every day.”

Along the way Grace was never concerned with her own well-being, she just wanted Henry to feel better for his sake.

“I never felt like I would lose him. It was more concern for him and how he was feeling.”

Today Grace is still in disbelief that her husband is healthy and happy, something that once appeared as if it may never happen again.

“Whenever I look at him I just think it’s so amazing. My kidney is inside him. We really were made for each other, in more than one way.”

Henry was grateful to the medical staff in Edmonton throughout his hard time and wishes people could better understand the system.

“The medical staff was outstanding. I know a lot of people complain about the health care system because we want everything to be instant but the bottom line is when you’re sick, it’s there for you.

The two are happier than they’ve never been more certain that they were indeed a match made in heaven.

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