Michigan man receives life-saving kidney transplant from wife of 26 years

Posted at 3:22 PM, Nov 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-23 15:22:54-05

(WXYZ) — Sean McNeil of Roseville found himself helpless, lying on the floor one early April morning after collapsing while heading into bed.

“I wasn’t able to yell out,” he said. “I wasn’t able to pick myself back up off the floor. [My wife] was getting ready. And she came out, about ready to go to work, and saw me on the floor in the family room...And she knew immediately to call 911.”

Sean's blood sugar level, normally 120 mg/DL, had bottomed out at 36 mg/DL. His systolic blood pressure had shot up to a dangerous 246.

The ambulance took him to a nearby hospital in Warren, where a nephrologist told him he needed dialysis immediately.

“He told me, ‘You’re in complete renal failure; both kidneys are shot,’” Sean said. “The scariest thing, besides being told that, was that I needed dialysis immediately or I might not make it through the day.”

Sean has been dealing with diabetes for 16 years and avoided dialysis through diet and medication management, but he went into full kidney failure in April 2021 and was told a kidney transplant may be in his future.

Immediately, his wife Renee of 26 years stepped up to help.

“I’ve always felt it was my job to care for my family and not to have them do this here for me,” Sean said. "But to have someone here in your corner, to step up immediately … I just don’t have the words.”

On October 27, a Beaumont transplant surgeon removed one of Renee’s two kidneys and gave it to Sean.

“I just knew it was the right thing to do,” Renee said. “I wanted to make sure he had that opportunity. I said I need him in my life just as much. I can’t go on without him. I need him just as much as he needs me. He’s my best friend.”

And while dozens of family members and friends offered to be evaluated, Renee turned out to be a great match.

“I’m thankful for all the people who reached out, with prayers and well wishes and those asking what could they do, how could they help,” Sean said. “As the doctors were saying, this is a second shot at life, and that’s what it’s been to me.”