A Saskatchewan man gave more than his heart to his ill fiancée in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day — he gave one of his kidneys.
Chris Willenborg met Errin Tollefson about five years ago, and Tollefson revealed she was on dialysis and on a waitlist for a kidney.
Initially her dad was going to be the donor, but cancer had spread to his kidneys and he died.
Willenborg later met with a doctor who said he was a near-perfect match and could be the donor.
The following week Willenborg bought an engagement ring and two weeks later he proposed.
Willenborg and Tollefson went into surgery earlier this month and both hope to be wed in August.
“I just really wanted to help this person who I loved,” Willenborg, an assistant professor in agriculture and bioresources at the University of Saskatchewan, explained to CKOM radio.
Willenborg said that after Tollefson’s father died, he started to think about what he could do. Then in 2014, he said Tollefson got very sick from an infection.
He said that’s when he decided to get tested to find out if Tollefson could accept his kidney.
Willenborg was out of hospital quickly after the month’s surgery and he hoped Tollefson would be out in time for Valentine’s Day.
Late Friday night, Tollefson was released from hospital.
“My only shot at life, and to get it from my fiancee is just incredible and it’s a perfect gift,” Tollefson told CTV while she was still in hospital.
Willenborg said he wants to use recent media attention on their story to raise awareness of organ donation. He urges people to sign their donor cards or consider getting tested to be a potential match.