Southern California

Husband's Anniversary Gift to Wife is Life-Saving Kidney

Cindy Chafian planned to renew her wedding vows for her 20th anniversary at the historic Obici House in Suffolk, Virginia.

Instead, she'll be at a hospital recovering from kidney transplant surgery. Her husband is her donor.

"Instead of celebrating by having a big party, we're going to celebrate by being in different hospital rooms," Cindy, 45, said. "He is literally giving me the gift of life. Grateful, humbled, thankful and a little excited."

Scott's humble.

"I'm the one who's lucky here," Scott, 47, said. "She's been so sick for several years now. She'll say, I'm giving her life back, but I'm getting my wife back."

Cindy suffers from polycystic kidney disease that eventually shuts down the kidneys and leaves patients on dialysis for the rest of their lives or on waiting lists for a kidney.

"Unfortunately both my children inherited it," said Cindy's mother, Ann Walters, 61.

Cindy, raised in Southern California, has been living with her husband, a Navy veteran, in Virginia for nearly 20 years. She, her husband, and their five children in tow, will go to the hospital on Jan. 24 for the transplant surgery. Cindy's mom is flying out. The surgery will take up to 10 hours for both Cindy and Scott.

Scott will recover at the hospital for up to four days. Cindy will be in the hospital for five days.

This is familiar territory for Cindy. Her uncle got a transplant from his wife 17 years ago.

"It's comforting," she said. "You know what to expect. It's not uncharted territory."

The decision wasn't easy. But she was in so much pain -- her kidneys were failing, her body shutting down, that her kids hardly saw their mom.

She was fatigued. She had no energy. She lost muscle mass. Walking up stairs was taxing.

She had been on dialysis for two years. It was no way to live.

The couple learned Scott was a match and she gave her blessing to have him be her donor in October. Everything was a go before Christmas.

If they hadn't decided on surgery, they would be planning their 20th wedding anniversary. They had picked a place, The Obici House, whose namesake, Amedeo Obici, founded Planters Nut and Chocolate Company.

The romantic location is an Italian Renaissance-style house that overlooks the Nansemond River.

They had a date -- July 17. They told the family to save the date.

Instead they'll have time to reflect on their love, the obstacles they overcame and how much they care about each other while recovering at home.

It'll be a full year before she can get back to a more active lifestyle.

"Maybe when we get home, we'll do a little something ... it'll be us and the kids," Scott said. "And that'll be totally OK."

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