Thrive by IU Health

January 27, 2021

Two-time kidney recipient: One from his wife, another from his friend

IU Health University Hospital

Two-time kidney recipient: One from his wife, another from his friend

National media outlets hovered like bees at a honey pot when they learned the love story of Kyle Froelich, who received a kidney from a near stranger. That stranger then became his wife. Now, 10 years later, Froelich, has received a second kidney transplant.

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

It is a true romance story.

Kyle Froelich was 19 when he first met Chelsea Clair, 22. They were at a National Hot Rod Association drag race.

A mutual friend asked Chelsea to help distribute flyers raising awareness that Kyle needed a kidney. At the age of 12, a routine sports physical revealed Kyle’s kidneys were compromised. By the time he reached his junior year at Brownsburg High School he was on dialysis. He was listed for a kidney transplant the following year.

From the first time she saw him Chelsea was smitten. Kyle admits feeling the same. But never in a million years did he think this young woman would decide to become his kidney donor. After going through more than two years of dialysis with nearly 70 people tested as donors, Kyle wasn’t sure this was a match. But in fact, Chelsea’s blood type is O positive; Kyle is Type O negative. They were indeed, a match.

They were more than a kidney match. In no time at all it was clear that they were falling in love.

On April 1, 2010, Chelsea was in the care of IU Health surgeon Dr. John Powelson. Kyle was in the care of Dr. William Goggins. The anniversary of the transplant also marked the six-month anniversary of when the couple first met.

Six months turned into three years and on Oct. 12, 2013 in an outdoor ceremony at the Danville Conservation Club Kyle and Chelsea recited their wedding vows: “I offer you my hand, my heart and my soul, as I know they will be safe with you.” About 100 friends and family members attended their wedding on that beautiful warm sunny day.

The day marked a start of a new life for Kyle and a new chapter for the couple.

In the past 10 years, their family – including a daughter, Aby, 13, and son, Wyatt, 8 - has moved to a new home and Kyle continues to work for the CSX railroad. But while their lives thrived, Kyle’s health declined. Three years ago, he contracted pneumonia and his original kidney disease – IgA nephropathy – returned. He needed a new kidney.

It was a friend he met through his son’s football league that became Kyle’s second donor on July 31, 2020.

February 14th is National Organ Donor Day – a time to increase awareness of organ donation and the lives it can save. According to Donate Life America, more than 110,000 people are awaiting an organ transplant every day. More than 80 percent of those on the transplant list are awaiting a kidney. Another person is added to the waiting list every 10 minutes. One person can donate up to eight lifesaving organs. In 2019, nearly 40,000 transplants brought new life to recipients and their families. More than 156,000 million people, approximately 60 percent of the US population are registered organ, eye, and tissue donors.

For Kyle to have two living kidney donors is something he could only dream of.

“I’m very grateful. It’s a new year and I feel good,” said Kyle. “I think things are getting back to normal.”

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