Woman Sacrifices Self to Save Fiancé's Life from Rare Disease


I think we need to coin a new phrase. We have all heard things about love making people into fools or a person becoming a fool for love.

The assumption in such phrases is that in the throws of love one becomes silly, loopy, and foolish. While this makes good fodder for romantic comedies, it does little to describe the lived conditions of real people.

I think we should flip it, put out a little truth to blow some people’s minds. Are you with me?

Here is our new phrase: Love makes fools of some and heroes of most. Please feel free to use this as much as possible.

Now, let us turn to the case study of Alix Cirigliano and Brett Epps. Cirigliano, in an act of true bravery, donated her kidney to save Epps’s life.

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In October 2014, Epps was diagnosed with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis. The rare disease leaves scarring in the kidney, leaving Epps with only 13% of his left kidney functioning and requiring dialysis for nine hours a day.

“When I was about 12, they found protein in my urine, which they said at the time was a common thing for athletic boys doing sports,” he said. “We didn’t check into it, but if we had, they probably would have found it then.”

Epps’s symptoms first appeared the night of his first date with Cirigliano. Epps proposed to Cirigliano in the hospital after one kidney transplant had to be aborted.

That first potential kidney had been a former student of her father’s. The procedure had to stop when the candidate’s heart stopped beating.

“My mom was like, ‘The surgery isn’t going to happen, but you’re still gonna ask her, right?’” Epps reported. He did indeed propose.

Ten months later, Cirigliano was donating her own kidney to Epps. A heroic act of love.

They had only been dating a month when Epps was rushed to the emergency room for the first time. They had been celebrating Cirigliano’s birthday.

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With a second chance at life, the couple decided on a second wedding to celebrate. They were one of ten couples chosen to marry atop the Empire State Building in NYC.

“I continue to take you to be my partner in life and my one true love. I will cherish our union. I will trust and respect you, laugh and cry with you, love you faithfully through good times and bad. I will help you to make your dreams come true, even the small ones, and to love you more than I love myself. I give you my hand, my heart and my love for all my days,” Epps said in his vows.

Cirigliano was the best match to donate her kidney from a list that included Epps’s brother and former wrestling coach.

Approximately 5,000 of the 93,000 people waiting for a kidney will die. A transplant from a living candidate has a better success rate than one from a cadaver.

If you are able to help someone out by donating a kidney or other organ, please consider it. Saving lives is a heroic act of love.

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