Harikumar stands on the winners podium at the World Transplant Games in South Africa

As a newly married couple, Saranya and Harikumar couldn’t have been happier. They were young, in love, and excited to start their new life together. However, just one month into their marriage Harikumar got very sick. When his vomiting and high fever did not subside, the couple decided they had better go to the doctor. After running some tests, they were shocked to learn that Harikumar had Chronic Kidney Disease, and his kidneys were only functioning at 17 percent.

Though the news was surprising, the newlyweds tried to remain optimistic.

“We were very young and did not know what kidney failure was,” said Saranya. “We thought we can make the kidneys work again with medications. We tried various types of treatments like homeopathy, acupuncture but things got worse.”

A good match

As the disease progressed, Harikumar was placed on dialysis a few months after his diagnosis. Saranya remembers how hard it was to watch her husband go from being athletic and energetic, to frail and fatigued. Dialysis took a toll on Harikumar, and eventually he became too sick to continue work. He endured more than 100 days on dialysis, and after watching her husband become weaker and weaker, Saranya hoped there was more she could do to help.

The couple was living in India at the time and their governments regulates living organ donation more strictly than in the United States. After waiting more than a year, Saranya was finally eligible to be tested to see if she as a potential kidney donor for Harikumar. The tests came back positive, and once again, it was proven that the two were a good match.

On April 19, 2011, just over a year after giving her heart to Harikumar in marriage, Saranya gave her husband a kidney, and thus, a second chance at life.

“When I found out I was a good match for my husband, I was the happiest person on earth,” she remembers, “but at the same time it was scary because it was all new and I really wanted everything to go smoothly. With God’s grace it went on great.”

A healthy future

In 2014, Saranya and Harikumar moved to Western Washington and one year later, welcomed their first child. Today, they celebrate love and health, and know that every milestone in their daughter’s life, and every happy day is made possible because of organ donation.

Saranya and Harikumar with their daughter at the Tulip Festival, Mount Vernon, WA

“Being a donor means giving the gift of life. This is the greatest gift that anybody can give and receive,” Saranya says.

As she reflects on being a living donor and the restored health donation has given her husband, she often thinks about donor families who’s loved ones gave life in their death. She hopes they know the unmatched happiness their gift of donation brings to the recipients and their families.

“I’m always amazed and grateful to all the donor families because it could be a difficult decision for some, but I absolutely feel the donor still lives as a new person in the recipient. They are giving another family the gift of life and it is the greatest joy that we could having during a difficult time.”