Husband saves wife's life by donating kidney after spending a year dieting and exercising to get his blood pressure low enough for surgery
A man has spent a year losing 70lbs so he could donate his kidney to his wife.
PJ Spraggins was delighted when he discovered he was a perfect match for wife Tracy, who was told her life-long battle with Lupus would kill her if she didn't get a transplant. The waiting list is seven years long.
But the next day the couple from Birmingham, Alabama, were dealt a blow: his blood pressure was too high to perform the operation.
Refusing to accept the diagnosis, PJ embarked on a relentless fitness regime.
Finally, in December 2014, they got the green light. In February, they went under the knife together.
'We both just feel amazing. I'm slowly getting back to work making music, Tracy is making sure she fully recovers. But the entire process has been amazing.'
Now 39, Tracy was six when she was first diagnosed with the chronic inflammatory disease which affects her kidney functions.
She was placed on the transplant list in 2013 - just a few months after her 34-year-old sister, who also had Lupus, died following complications from a kidney transplant.
Knowing that the seven-year wait might be too long, PJ, a self-employed musician, submitted himself for the weeks-long evaluation to assess whether he could donate his kidney.
However, the good news was tinged with disappointment as doctors said his size meant the operation couldn't go ahead.
'They said I was a perfect match but they wanted to check I was healthy and met their requirements. They sent me a blood pressure monitor, but they didn't like the numbers.
'That was a real kick in the gut.'
The doctors advised PJ, who weighed 265lbs, to lose 30lbs before returning for an evaluation.
He did - but on the day of the test he changed a flat tire.
'My blood pressure was all over the place. The results came back and they said no again.'
It didn't stop there.
Next try was a hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, where he was told to another 60lbs.
Eventually, they made it to Nashville's Vanderbilt Hospital in December 2014. PJ made sure he did everything he could to ensure the readings were perfect.
'I put that blood pressure monitor on and lay in bed all day. And thankfully, it all came back good!'
Undergoing the four-hour surgery together on February 24, the couple took a beaming photograph in matching hospital gowns.
'The way my kidney function is now, it's at 100 percent. And it's at the best it's ever been,' Tracy, a special needs teacher, told Fox.
PJ told DailyMail.com: 'It has just been amazing. To know that I did everything I could to give my wife a better quality of life is just the best feeling. I am so happy.'
The couple's friends have now set up a fund to financially support them during the two-month recovery period when they will be unable to work.