This man has earned respect and deserves kudos for what he has done to save his wife’s life. He spent a year dieting and exercising to lower his blood pressure and lose weight so that he would be capable of going through an operation to donate a kidney to his wife.
The loving couple, James and Tracy Spraggins, managed to fight the life-threatening disease. James, also known as PJ, is a musician and Tracy is a special education teacher. They are from Birmingham, Alabama, and have been married for 10 years now, living a happy life.
Tracy, now 39, has been struggling with SLE, or lupus, since she was 6 years old. Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that can cause kidney failure, among other things. Her name was placed on the National Kidney Transplant list in 2013, just a few months after her 34 year-old sister, who also had lupus, died from complications during a kidney transplant. Tracy’s kidney function went below 15% and she could not wait longer for a transplant, but there are more than 93,000 people waiting for kidney transplants, and the average wait time is 6-7 years. Her husband PJ decided to step forward and go through the extensive evaluation process to assess whether or not he could donate a kidney to his wife.
PJ didn’t want to wait for years because Tracy was told lupus would kill her if she didn’t get a transplant, so he enrolled for the week-long evaluation process.
Unfortunately, bad news was embedded with the good news. His 265 pound size was a problem and doctors told him they could not move forward with the operation.
“They said I was a perfect match but they wanted to check if I was healthy and met their requirements. They sent me a blood pressure monitor, but they didn’t like the numbers,” said PJ.
PJ was told by doctors to lose 30 pounds before he returned for the evaluation. He lost the weight but the same day he changed a flat tire which made his blood pressure go up, again leading to bad news.
“My blood pressure was all over the place. The results came back and they said no again.”
Even the second failure could not stop him from saving his wife’s life. He was all determined to lower his blood pressure and refused to accept the rejection.
He gave it another try at a hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, where he was advised to lose another 60 pounds, over the next year he lost 70 pounds.
Eventually they made it to Nashville’s Vanderbilt Hospital in December 2014, this time PJ made sure that every reading was perfect and his blood pressure was low enough to pass the evaluation process.
“I put that blood pressure monitor on and lay in bed all day. And thankfully, it all came back good,” beamed PJ.
This time he got the green signal and was very happy about it.
Finally the couple underwent surgery together and it was successful. “The way my kidney function is now, it’s at 100%. And it’s at the best it’s ever been,” said Tracy in an interview to WRBC.
PJ is proud and happy about saving his wife’s life. He happily did everything he could to keep her alive.
The couple’s friends have set up a fund to help them during the two month recovery period as they are unable to work for that time.