Navy veteran set to donate kidney to his wife

LIFE
Brandy and Levar Allen Photo credit Department of Veterans Affairs

Brandy Allen, a health system specialist at Overton Brooks VA Medical Center, received some troubling news around the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She tested positive for the coronavirus. Allen’s battle against the virus was complicated by her struggle as a lifelong type-1 diabetic, a condition she has had since childhood.

“Around day four, I got really sick,” Allen said in a VA blog post. “I went to the emergency room and they said I was suffering from kidney failure. It was terrifying.”

A few months later, doctors started hemodialysis, which uses a special filter or a dialyzer to clean the blood. Most of her doctors believed her kidneys would rebound. Acute kidney failure is marked by a timeline of fewer than 90 days. Soon they would surpass the 100-day mark, which meant Allen’s condition was chronic – and dangerous.

That touched off a search for a kidney donor. Allen and her husband, Levar, soon discovered that search can take years.

Levar, a Navy veteran and housekeeping aid in Environmental Services at the Shreveport VA, was aware of the risks involved.

“I can’t lose her,” he said. “That was my first thought. We’re gonna do whatever we need to do.”

Levar started asking more specific questions to the health care specialists without telling Brandy his intent. Levar wanted to see if he would be a match.

“I didn’t tell her what I was doing because I didn’t want to disappoint her if we didn’t match,” he added.

Baylor University Medical School then provided some hopeful news.

“They kept coming back and saying, ‘You passed the first test, then the next, then the next one,” Levar said. “I knew in my heart we were destined to get through this together.”

Organ donors are required to meet strict medical criteria to qualify as transplant contributors.

“I got choked up and tearful that someone loves me enough to do that, but at the same time, I didn’t want my husband to be at risk,” Brandy said.

A member of the transplant team later told her what Levar said during the difficult testing process.

“She was there for me during tough times and I’m going to be there for her,” he said.

The transplant operation is scheduled for this month in Dallas, Texas.

Organ donors are always needed. To find out how you can save a life visit here.

Reach Julia LeDoux at Julia@connectingvets.com.

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