Couple donate kidneys to strangers through the National Kidney Registry

SAN DIEGO - A local couple became the first husband and wife in the country to donate their kidneys to strangers through the National Kidney Registry.

Alexis Wesley, 31, laughed and cracked jokes in her bed at Sharp Memorial Hospital on Wednesday, just one day out of surgery.

She said she wants people to know donating a kidney is a lot easier than it used to be.

"It's easier than giving blood," she said. "I pass out … They pulled it out of my Caesarian section scar, and we joked that was the smallest thing they ever pulled out of there because my daughter was a big baby."

Doctors said the couple's act has the potential to save many lives. Alexis' husband, Charles, donated his kidney last year.

"It's just exciting to see anybody else donating, but particularly your wife," he said.

Charles said he is thrilled about helping others and proud of his wife. The high school sweethearts became the nation's first couple to donate their kidneys, and they did not do it for each other -- they did to help total strangers. The two said they did it because they know what it's like to lean on others.

Charles said they were the recipients of charity and of goodwill, so they wanted to give back.

Their daughter, Laelia, was born with a rare joint and muscle disorder called Hall's contractures. At 6 years old, Laelie has been under the knife six times. Their 2-year-old son, Roland, has the same disorder and faces the same challenges as his sister.

Alexis' kidney went to a man in New York and 10News learned the transplant was successful. Doctors said there are 450 people waiting for organs at Sharp Memorial Hospital.

According to Sharp, the National Kidney Registry, a nonprofit based in Long Island, N.Y., that pairs donors with those suffering from kidney failure, requires recipients to have a partner who is willing to donate one of their kidneys.

Nearly 850 transplants have been facilitated since the registry started in 2008. Of those, 25 have taken place at Sharp Memorial Hospital. Eight donation chains have started at Sharp, according to the hospital.

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