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Husband donates kidney to wife: ‘We’ve met some amazing people on this journey’

IU Health University Hospital

Husband donates kidney to wife: ‘We’ve met some amazing people on this journey’

It’s been six years since Carolina Furlani received a life-saving organ from her husband, Casey. They still talk about it like it was yesterday.

By IU Health Senior Journalist, T.J. Banes, tfender1@iuhealth.org.

On a recent fall afternoon, Casey Furlani was jogging through Ft. Benjamin Harrison State Park wearing a Donate Life hoodie. When asked, he didn’t hesitate to stop his run and share his story. The story wasn’t just his; it was also his wife’s story.

Six years ago, Fulani donated a kidney to his spouse, Carolina.

“We like to talk about it and promote organ donation every chance we get,” said Furlani. “We’ve met some interesting people on this journey.”

According to Donate Life America, more than 100,000 people are on the national transplant waiting list. More than 85 percent of patients are awaiting a kidney; 11 percent are awaiting a liver. Last year, 5,700 more lives were saved through living donors.

The Furlani’s met through work in 2000. They were married three years later, bought a home, and became parents to a son, Marc.

“Life was moving right along until early 2015 when my wife called me saying she couldn’t feel her legs very well while driving home from work. I took her to the emergency room and that is when we found out her kidneys quit working. From that point things happened so fast,” said Casey. In the days that followed Casey said he sat by helplessly as his wife underwent a blood transfusion, and had a port placed in her chest in preparation to begin dialysis.

All the while they were trying to make sense of the extreme turn of events. They said they still aren’t sure what happened but later discovered she had untreated elevated blood pressure. “She changed her diet, took her medicines, and went to all appointments monitoring her results,” said Casey. Eventually, she was listed for a kidney transplant.

“It was never a question of if I was going to be a donor. It was a question of if I was match,” said Casey, who changed his diet and focused on becoming as healthy as possible to become his wife’s organ donor. “We were blessed that I had Type O blood which meant I was able to help her. After completing the other tests, we waited for a transplant date,” said Casey.

On April 29, 2016, Casey donated his kidney to his wife. They were in the care of IU Health Dr. Chandru P. Sundaram and Dr. William Goggins.

Casey was born and raised in Indianapolis – a graduate of Lawrence Central High School. Carolina moved to Indiana from Mexico City, Mexico in 2000.

“I liked that his personality was so different,” said Carolina. “I was intrigued by her from the start – the way she carried herself and the way she was so down to earth,” said Casey. He likes to fish; she doesn’t but she goes along with him anyway. She likes to dance; he doesn’t but he likes to watch her dance.

“We encourage each other’s hobbies and interests,” said Casey. And when she became sick, he says he didn’t give much thought to sharing a kidney.

“I have to admit I didn’t know much about becoming a living donor before she needed a transplant. After experiencing it, I realize that not only did it make her life better, it made my life better,” said Casey. “We are both more healthy, and we realize the importance of traveling, spending time with family, and really enjoying life in general.”

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