LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Valentine’s Day is especially sweet this year for Matt and Carey Murphy, the Louisville couple who learned last year they truly are a perfect match.
Carey had been diagnosed with the rare and incurable disease amyloidosis, which had damaged her kidneys beyond repair, and she needed a transplant to survive.
Matt volunteered to give his wife one of his kidneys, and that’s when medical testing proved what they already knew, that they were the perfect match. The transplant surgery was a success, and the Murphys will celebrate Valentine’s Day evening in the gym watching their cheerleader daughters, Paige, 14, and Morgan, 12, perform at their school's basketball games.
Matt and Carey, members of Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, recalled their wedding vows from 22 years ago that included “in sickness and in health.” Neither of them had envisioned at the time what they’ve been through with lengthy bouts of dialysis, chemo-therapy and surgery. But they said the experiences have brought them even closer together.
“Our marriage is stronger and deeper than ever,” Matt said Monday. “We’re not guaranteed tomorrow, so we’re really focused on enjoying life now.”
“You just can’t understand that, unless you’ve been in the pit,” Carey added. “That’s where I felt like I was for a while. But I always had someone willing to lean over and pull me out."
In January 2014, Carey, 42, began suffering from fatigue and unusual swelling in her ankles. Blood work confirmed the worst.
Carey initially underwent 16 rounds of chemo. A couple of months later she spent 10 days in the hospital so doctors could collect millions of her stem cells.
“In October 2014, she went back for high dose chemo and to get her cells back,” Matt said. “The process took 22 days. Then, she remained at home recovering and was finally well enough to go back to work in February 2015.”
Still, Carey needed the kidney transplant.
"When I found out that Matt was the match, I knew that would take the place of any presents for the rest of my life," she said.
The surgery was last summer at Louisville’s Jewish Hospital after more than two years of treatments.
“They double-checked the match several times to make sure the results were not a fluke,” Matt said. “They called it a ‘beautiful’ match for a non-relative. We knew it wasn't a fluke, it was just another way God has orchestrated our lives for His glory.”
Carey is the kind of person who truly appreciates even the smallest of gifts, realizing they’re a sign of love and affection. But the gift of a kidney?
“Matt loves me unconditionally and sacrificially; it's who he is,” Carey said. “I'm overwhelmed with God's grace and goodness, and while I know that this story seems very romantic or even crazy to the average person, we know that it was part of God's plan all along. If one person is exposed to the gospel because of it, it will have been worth it.”
Matt, 45, said donating a kidney fits the biblical mandate from Ephesians 5:25: “Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.”
Having gone through several different seasons of life over the last two years, Matt said they have tried to find joy in each and every day.
“Our perspective on life has changed and we try to live everyday like it is a gift,” Carey said. “Our health is good and we continue to give thanks to the Lord for his sustaining grace.”