Everybody knows that if you’re carrying a few extra pounds, it wouldn’t hurt to go on a diet. Of course, losing weight is a lot easier said than done.
But when you’re doing it not for yourself but for the health of someone you love, all the little things that go into weight loss – avoiding the sweets, eating the veggies, going to the gym – become more manageable…
Childhood Health Problems
When she was a young girl, there was something wrong with Tracy that her parents and doctors had a hard time pinning down. She was six years old when she finally learned the name of what was ailing her: lupus.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can affect many different systems within the body, and can have a wide variety of symptoms that seem to come and go without any apparent pattern. With symptoms that can include joint pain, fatigue, fever, swollen lymph nodes, rashes, and even general discomfort, it’s no wonder it’s a difficult condition to diagnose.
Tracy’s lupus affected her kidney functionality. Thankfully though, with proper treatment, she was able to grow into adulthood. But when she got into her 30s, the chronic inflammation of her kidneys grew worse. Her doctors feared that if she didn’t receive a kidney transplant, she wouldn’t live for much longer.
Just a few months after the woman from Birmingham, Alabama, was placed on the kidney transplant list, Tracy’s 34-year-old sister, who also had lupus, died following complications from a kidney transplant. Her sister’s death made the situation all too real for her and her husband PJ.
The wait time for kidneys can be extremely long and her doctors suspected that it would likely be about seven years before Tracy’s chance came to attempt a transplant. Knowing that those seven years might be longer than his wife had, PJ submitted himself for the weeks-long evaluation process to see if he could donate one of his kidneys.
The results of the screening process wore good news mixed with bad. “They said I was a perfect match but they wanted to [ensure] I was healthy and met their requirements,” PJ said. “They sent me a blood pressure monitor but they didn’t like the numbers. It was a real kick in the gut.”
Not Fit For Surgery
The problem was that PJ Spraggins’ blood pressure was too high and, at 265 pounds, the doctors believed that he was not healthy enough to safely donate his kidney without undue risk to his own health. They wanted him to lose 30 pounds before returning for another evaluation.
If you’ve ever tried to lose a significant amount of weight, you know it’s not easy. But when the life of the person you love most in the whole world depends on dropping some pounds, there is no stronger motivation. PJ began a relentless fitness routine, determined to shed the weight.
PJ lost the 30 pounds but on the day of that test, he was in an unusually stressful mood after having to change a flat while wearing the blood pressure monitor. “My blood pressure was all over the place. The results came back and they said no again,” PJ said.
So PJ went to another hospital in Atlanta where he was told to drop down to 60 pounds below his starting weight. Again PJ put in the work he needed to drop the weight before the final round of testing at Nashville’s Vanderbilt hospital in December of 2014.
At the same time that PJ was dropping the pounds, Tracy was working hard to get rid of excess weight as well for the same exact reason. The healthier her weight and blood pressure, the less likely there would be any complications as a result of getting a new kidney.
Passing The Test
Finally at a near-ideal weight, PJ didn’t want any other errant bit of stress to affect his test results. “I put that blood pressure monitor on and lay in bed all day. And thankfully, it came back all good,” he said.
After a year of dieting and exercise, PJ had lost a more than 70 pounds and lowered his blood pressure into a healthy range, enabling him to donate the life-saving kidney that his wife Tracy needed. Tracy, for her part, had lost just about the same amount of weight and in total, the couple had lost a combined 145 pounds.
In It Together
In February of 2015, the slimmed down Tracy and PJ Spraggins donned matching hospital gowns, looking almost unrecognizable compared to what they looked like just a year before. They took a smiling photo before undergoing a four-hour surgery together.
We Did It!
Thankfully, the surgery was a complete success and would certainly add a significant number of years that the couple would have together. “The way my kidney function is now, it’s at 100 percent,” Tracy said. “And it’s at the best it’s ever been,” the special needs teacher told Fox News.
The Best Feeling
“It has just been amazing,” PJ said to the Daily Mail. “To know that I did everything I could to give my wife a better quality of life is just the best feeling. I am so happy.” Although the surgery was a success, the couple would be unable to work for a full two months as they recovered from the surgery.
Help Us Out
Unable to work, Tracy and PJ started a fund through youcaring.com, which is now a part of GoFundMe. “While the actual cost of the kidney transplant itself would be covered, they would need at least two months of financial assistance to cover regular household expenses as neither of them will be able to work during their recovery. Your donations would be immensely appreciated,” they wrote in a message on their fundraiser.
Easing Back In
Because PJ is a self-employed drummer and producer, his time off was a little bit less strict than his wife’s. “We both just feel amazing. I’m slowly getting back to work making music, Tracy is making sure she fully recovers. But the entire process has been amazing.”
The couple, who had been married since 2003, now had a new lease on life that was as visible on the outside as it was strong on the inside. They had a ton of new, healthy habits, such as biking, that they never would have shared previously.
And on top of that, they had strengthened their bond with one another. PJ had made a sacrifice of his very flesh for his wife. Tracy literally carried a piece of PJ with her wherever she went. It was a perfect metaphor for the kind of love that they shared.