THE VOW: Henryville couple learns true meaning of "in sickness a - WDRB 41 Louisville News

THE VOW: Henryville couple learns true meaning of "in sickness and in health"

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- On the same day a tornado destroyed a Henryville, Ind. couple's home they learned kidney disease was threatening to destroy their lives.

In this WDRB special assignment, "The Vow," we see a Henryville family's two-year journey through the storm.

When you find the perfect match, you promise to love, honor and cherish. In good times and in bad. In sickness and health. That's how it was for Mark and Kim Schneider.

"Actually, he threw ice at me," Kim said. "That's how we met."

"It got her attention to come over and find out what my problem was," Mark said.

Kim jokingly points out that she only has to "love, honor and cherish" her husband.

"It didn't say obey," Kim said.

"She wouldn't let me put the obey in there," laughed Mark.

Mark and Kim Schneider have tested every one of their vows in the last two years. When this Henryville couple lost their house in the March 2 tornado, the storms in their life were just beginning, because on that exact same day, Mark's battle with diabetes started taking over his life. 

"Actually the night of the tornado he got really sick and ended up in the hospital for three days," Kim said.

"They started running more tests and figuring out that the kidneys were shutting down," Mark said.

"You don't know where you're going to go, how you're going to handle it, how you move on from here," Kim said.

"It's like going from being 20 to 110 all at once," Mark said. "You just age so fast."

The couple faced an impossible decision.

"He didn't want me to give my kidney because my dad is going through this exact same thing," Kim said. "My dad needs a kidney. I don't know what to do."

But Kim's father told her to save her husband -- so two years after Mark's diagnosis, the family sits, beaming at IU Health University Hospital in Indianapolis for an operation that seems like it took an eternity to arrive. Then, moments before surgery, another storm drops on the Schneiders, and no one saw it coming: Kim spikes a fever. No transplant today.

The entire family returned to the hospital three weeks later. Mark said his kidney function is down to just 10 percent. If they can't do the transplant this time, he's looking at dialysis.

But the clouds parted on this day and Mark will get his wife's kidney.

The doctors welcomed our cameras into their operating rooms. Music blared the entire time and surgeons worked in precise rhythm -- each room with its own tune: whatever helped the doctors focus.

Dr. John Powelson inflated Kim's belly and went in laparoscopically with three incisions burrowing down to her left kidney. Mark's doctor emerged after 90 minutes seeing if it's time to start his surgery. As Dr. William Goggins begins to open Mark up in one room, Powelson cuts Kim's vessels and artery free and checks to make sure her kidney works properly.

"We try to do the timing such so that neither the donor or recipient is asleep longer than they have to be," Goggins said.

"The lack of dialysis, the short ischemic time and the health of the donor make a living donor much better for the recipient," Powelson said. "Donor operations are stressful because the patient is completely healthy and so you can only do one thing so the donor operation turns out being very stressful to us."

As we spoke to Dr. Powelson, word came from the other room that Mark is ready: it's time to remove the kidney.

It's no more than 30 yards from Kim's operating room to Mark's. The team flanks the one rushing the organ like blockers clearing a path to the end zone. First, they clean and chill the kidney, hoping to prevent shock during the actual transplant. All eyes watch the clock. The goal: 24 minutes from ice to abdomen.

The nurses call this hospital "Club Transplant." It ranks among the top in the country for organ donations, moving kidneys the most. In fact, Dr. Goggins performed more than 200 kidney transplants last year with a 100 percent success rate.

Add one more to the list. Kim's kidney is working in Mark's body.

Goggins says that the operations "went about as good as can be expected, perfectly!"

When you find the perfect match, you promise to love honor and cherish. For Mark and Kim Schneider, those vows mean more than most will ever know.

"It was a relief to see that he was OK," said Kim. "To just know that it's done and he can have a better life now -- it's just amazing."

"We're united together forever and always now," Mark said. "Literally till death do us part. That's the only way...and even then it will still be there."

Marks lost 50 pounds just 10 days after the transplant. UNOS reports more than 108,000 people on the kidney transplant waiting list.
The number doubled in the last decade .Patients typically sit on waiting list for about five years because there are simply not enough deceased donors. For more information on how you can be a living donor visit

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