SANBORNTON — ''Dave you don't have to do this,'' Wendy DeVoy told her husband as they walked up the steps to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon last week.
The couple had arrived before 6 o'clock in the morning for the long-anticipated kidney transplant surgery, one of the most common transplant operations in the country.
What was unusual was that it was going to be Dave DeVoy who was the kidney donor for his wife, a relatively rare procedure but one which he felt strongly needed to be done.
''I was scared, but I knew I was doing the right thing. I didn't believe there was another option,'' said DeVoy, who last December, after extensive tests, found out that he was a match to be a donor for his wife.
''It's pretty unusual for a husband to be a match. But once I found out that it was possible, the decision was easy to make,'' said DeVoy, a local business owner who is also chairman of the Belknap County Commission.
Wendy said that she had mixed feelings as they went into the hospital. ''I was so happy and grateful that he was going to be the donor , but I was so sad because knew it was causing him pain.''
DeVoy said that he was anxious abut the procedure and was hoping that he would be given medication which would help him relax. As it turned out, he only received that medication five minutes before he went into the operating room, where he placed under anesthesia and one of his kidneys removed.
The kidney was then placed in a cool water saline solution and it was Wendy's turn to be brought into the operating room after a wait of nearly eight hours since she had arrived at the hospital.
''It was nerve-wracking but they kept me in touch with what was happening,'' said Wendy, who received as a transplant a kidney much larger than the one it replaced and who had been on dialysis for eight years prior to the operation.
''We knew eight years ago that a transplant was probably going to be needed,'' says Dave, who said that at one point it was likely that Wendy's sister, who had tested out as a perfect match, would be he donor. But that changed last year and Dave, who had been tested as a possible donor eight years ago and never knew the results decided to have himself tested as a possible donor by Dartmouth-Hitchcock last fall.
Wendy was on home dialysis for four years but as of March last year had been undergoing the procedure at Concord Hospital. She was on a waiting list for a kidney transplant, but Dave said that the wait could have been several years during which her condition and quality of life would deteriorate.
DeVoy said that knowing that kidney donors actually outlive people who aren't kidney donors gave him confidence that there would be no long term impact on his health.
He said that when he woke up in the recovery room after his procedure Wendy was still in the operating room and he didn't get to see her until the next morning, when he was taken by wheelchair to her room, which was one floor up from where he was staying.
He said that when his 14-year-old daughter Maggie came to visit him after the operation he could see tears well up her in eyes because she was upset about the pain her mother was experiencing. But she was relieved to realize that the long ordeal was over and that her mother could lead a normal life once more.
DeVoy said that he was out of the hospital within a few days and his wife a few days later and have been receiving a lot of help from his mother, Evelyn, who lives in Dedham, Mass., and Wendy's mother, Jean Claridge, who lives in Sanbornton.
''We're both recovering and I'm still not at full speed,'' said DeVoy, who said he was pumped full of 25 pounds of fluid before the procedure and has shed most of that weight since coming home,
He owns convenience stores in Gilford and Barnstead, and is also chairman of the Belknap County Commission, which he said in recent months has also been a stressful situation.
Wendy says that her recovery period is expected to be four or five months and that she needs to make frequent follow-up visits to Dartmouth-Hitchcock.
But she is happy that the worst is behind her and is grateful for the support of friends and family since she has returned home.