Finding the Right Match
"Chuck doesn't think of himself as a hero. In my eyes, he absolutely is."
Chuck and Nadine are a perfect match — in more ways than one.
Nadine has lupus, and in 2007, it caused her to go into kidney failure.
"I had gotten a phone call at work from my doctor, and I was told that my kidneys were failing and I needed a transplant," she says. "I said, 'I think you may have my tests mixed up with somebody else's because I feel fine.' And they said, 'Unfortunately, we have the right person, and we have the right test.' I just couldn't believe it."
After work, Nadine visited Chuck, whom she had started dating just two weeks before. She says she was "visibly upset," and when he asked what was wrong, she told him.
"Immediately, he said, 'Well, I'll give you one of mine,'" she recalls.
Says Chuck: "As soon as she said, 'I need a transplant,' I knew why the Lord put us together. I can't explain how I knew it, but it was just a feeling. It was in my gut that, 'Well, that's me. That's why I'm here.'
After learning that Nadine's family members weren't the right match to be donors, Chuck went through the blood tests himself. They discovered that he wasn't just a match — he was a perfect match.
“(They said), 'That's like you guys winning the Powerball on the same day,'" Nadine says. "It just doesn't happen like that."
Nadine, who previously had her spleen removed, says she was "scared out of her mind" about the transplant. But Chuck wasn't worried at all.
"I'm sitting at the table, I'm eating Jell-O and drinking chicken broth and saying, 'Come on up here and have some Jell-O,'" he says. "I was looking forward to two weeks off of work and getting this solved, getting this all done."
They underwent the living-donor transplant in October 2007 at UPMC Harrisburg. The procedure went smoothly. Chuck says he experienced some more pain than Nadine did. But other than that, both came away healthy.
“I would recommend that transplant team and my nephrologist to anybody," Nadine says. "It was just an amazing experience."
Two years after the transplant, Nadine and Chuck got married. They've been together ever since.
"I told her, 'I gave you a house, I gave you a car, I gave you a kidney — the only thing I have left to give you is my last name,'" Chuck says.
Chuck and Nadine are advocates for both living-donor and deceased-donor transplants. About 100,000 Americans are on the kidney transplant waiting list.
Nadine says she often talks to people who are waiting for a transplant. She tells them not to give up hope, and that their time will come.
She's grateful to Chuck and to living donors like him. Living donations save lives.
"Chuck doesn't think of himself as a hero," she says. "In my eyes, he absolutely is.
“Because of Chuck, my daughter still has a mom. My mom and dad still have a daughter. My sister still has a sister. And, my best friend still has a best friend because of something that he chose to do and was so selfless to offer."
Nadine didn't choose to need a kidney transplant. But she did choose UPMC.