By Julie Huss
---- — LONDONDERRY — They were a perfect match.
Rosemarie Meuse and her husband Philip celebrated 35 years of marriage and moved to Londonderry last December to enjoy their retirement together at a new home in the Nevins community.
Meuse, 62, has battled a genetic polycystic kidney disease since she was young. Her husband eventually made the decision to donate one of his kidneys to save his wife’s life.
But then he died suddenly this past March, right before he was scheduled to enter the hospital to begin preliminary testing prior to donating his kidney.
“Philip was the love of my life, I am so heartbroken,” Meuse said.
With that loss still so fresh in her mind, Meuse now hopes a stranger might come forward to be her perfect match.
“He was terrific, everybody loved him,” she said, remembering the man who wanted to give her that special gift. “He was so selfless. We always wanted to be together.”
Meuse is now reaching out in an effort to find someone who might want to help her live.
She has been approved as a transplant recipient at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
Meuse found out about her kidney disease when she was in her 20s. Once she got married, the decision was made not to have children, due to her illness.
Her husband’s support through the years gave her hope, she said. They dealt with life’s challenges and moved to Londonderry near family to begin retirement years together.
“This was going to be our home, our last stop in life,” Meuse said as she looked around her spacious living room.
There has already been transplant success in the family. Two years ago, a brother, Robert, donated one of his kidneys to another brother, Gene.
Both of her brothers are doing well, Meuse said, but they struggled with the donation aspect of their relationship, and worried about their sister’s health and her own transplant options.
She said the sibling who needed the kidney the most got the donation.
Meuse is on a waiting list for a kidney donation from a deceased donor, but that list is long — about 117,000 are waiting for a new organ.
“The wait could be seven to 10 years,” she said. “This is what prompted me to start my own kidney campaign to find a living donor.”
If she can’t find a donor, Meuse said her quality of life will tumble and she would end up on chronic dialysis treatments.
Finding a donor would save her life.
Anyone wanting information about becoming a living donor for Meuse can do so anonymously. The process would be minimally invasive for the donor — the surgery is done laparoscopically and would require only small incisions. Donors could return to normal activities within a few weeks.
A healthy person only needs one kidney to survive and a donation has no negative impact on the donor’s quality of life.
There would also be no cost to the donor, Meuse said. All expenses, including any travel, would be paid through her insurance.
Meuse hopes someone out there wants to help.
“I would be so grateful and it would mean so much to my family,” she said. “It could actually save my life.”
Meuse misses her husband and said it’s hard to fathom going through her health issues without him. She is also frustrated to know how hard it is to find that perfect match.
“To go through this alone without him, it’s really difficult,” she said.
To learn more about becoming a potential kidney donor call the Living Donor Transplant Coordinator at Brigham and Women’s Hospital at (617) 732-6866. Information is confidential. Meuse can be reached directly at 216-1338.