Not only did a Florida wife give her husband her heart — she also gave him an organ when chronic kidney disease nearly took his life.
"We need another chance, you need another chance, and the kids need you and I need you," Gabriela Valdes of Miami told her husband just moments before going into surgery as a living donor.
Abel Valdes, 38, has been dealing with a slew of health problems since he was 12 years old, and years of battling diabetes and high blood pressure eventually took a toll on his kidneys.
"It got to the point where I couldn’t control it [with diet] anymore," he told InsideEdition.com. "I’d wake up in the middle of the night and my lungs would get full of fluid."
Two years ago, he began receiving dialysis treatments four days a week.
“He wasn’t able to spend as much time with the kids and do things with the kids that he would do, and I’d have to leave him out a lot of the time because he did not have any strength to be able to sit through a football game,” Gabriela said. "He was just so drained he couldn't even do much anymore."
Abel added, "It just drains your body."
After an open heart surgery last year, a doctor sat down with the couple and told them Abel needed a kidney immediately.
He was put on the national transplant list at about the same time he began dialysis treatments, but was warned their wait for a cadaver kidney could take up to five years.
“[His condition] would have eventually gotten [worse] with heart complications, or [he would not have] made it to even get a kidney," Gabriela said.
Doctors at Jackson Memorial Hospital then asked whether Gabriela wanted to be tested to see if she was a match as a living donor.
“I met him when I was 17 years old," she said. "I went to prom with him. I’ve been with him ever since. I have three beautiful children that love their father. I just jumped on it and drew my blood that same day.”
Abel said he originally had some hesitations, saying, "She’s the mother of my three kids so I did not want her to go through anything that would hurt her."
But after several tests and screenings determined she was a match, Gabriela insisted she would do it for her husband.
"They took me in first," she recalled. "We held hands and kissed before we went to the operating room."
The surgery was successful, and although Gabriela took much longer to heal than Abel, who began feeling better immediately after the surgery, she said it was all worth it.
“Since he woke up from surgery, he was like a different person. You could see it in his face, his color changed,” Gabriela said.
“A few days of pain and you get over it and you can live a normal life and now I can live a normal life and he can have a life with my kids. The overall outcome of him having a chance at life and living free of dialysis and being part of our lives and watching my children grow up, is immensely worth it."
The couple said they are now taking the time to travel with their three children, something they were unable to do in the past because of Abel’s dialysis schedule.