In need of a new kidney, this nurse found the perfect donor in her husband.

In sickness and in health

Cathy Robins, RN, has lived with polycystic kidney disease for more than 20 years. The condition runs in her family. She knew it might eventually cause her kidneys to fail, and it did.

A Sentara nurse for more than 20 years and a new orthopedic navigator at Sentara CarePlex Hospital in Hampton, Robins wanted to avoid dialysis.

“I had this exciting new job,” she said of the Orthopaedic Hospital at Sentara CarePlex. “You have to schedule your life around dialysis, and I didn’t want that affecting my ability to do a good job.” 

Inspired by love 

She and her doctor decided a preemptive kidney transplant was the answer, but Cathy was reluctant to ask anyone to donate.

Her husband, Jerry, came to the rescue.

“I always knew we were a perfect match,” Jerry said. So, it was no surprise to him when testing revealed that he and Cathy were compatible for a kidney donation.

“He told me he needs me more than kidneys,” Cathy says. They took a weekend for reflection and prayer. They had a great deal to think about:

Jerry lost his first wife in 1987 to kidney failure from diabetes. Cathy lost her husband in 1987 to an accident while cutting wood. Cathy was Jerry’s parents neighbor and their children played together. Not long after their spouses died a few months apart, Jerry asked if he could bring his girls over to play. Three months later, Cathy and Jerry wed.

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