BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Alexis and Jheremi Durham have been married for ten years. Their bump in the road started about five years ago.
“I started having bad headaches and Tylenol wouldn't fix them,” said Jheremi.
They were getting so bad that one night, he was forced to go to his job’s infirmary. His blood pressure came in at 180/120. That triggered several doctors’ appointments. In the end, he was told he was living with 17% of his kidney function and acute kidney failure.
Durham weighed nearly 400 lbs at this time. Despite losing some weight, doctors said he had to lose another 100 lbs before he could even be added to the organ donation list. Physically, he was on a mission. Mentally, he was battling depression and life’s lows, thinking of his family history with kidney failure, having lost two aunts to it.
“Now in my mind, I’m fighting with, ‘Am I going to live or am I going to die?'” said Jheremi.
Finally, by May of 2019, he’d lost enough weight and was down to 224 lbs. At that point, he was put on the transplant list for a kidney.
But just as he was starting to have hope...
“The doctor came in and told me that I had another two to three years on the transplant list or I could accept a kidney that had hepatitis because the medicine is so far advanced to cure hepatitis,” said Jheremi.
Having to choose between two extremes, Jheremi was shattered once again, that is until his wife's epiphany.
“I was sitting there listening and something hit me,” said Alexis. “I asked her if I could get some blood work done so I could start doing the testing if I could give him a kidney.”
In August, after multiple tests, they got the call.
“She was like, ‘Mrs. Durham, I got some news.’ I was like, ‘What?’ She was like, ‘You’re a match’. I was like, ‘Oh my god.' I literally broke out crying,” said Alexis.
The question now was when did the husband and wife want to go under?
“I was like, the sooner the better. I don’t want to wait another minute!” said Alexis.
On Nov. 13, Alexis donated one of her kidneys to her own husband. Both of his kidneys were failing.
"I always told him that I always wanted to be a donor for somebody. It didn’t matter who, because I even put donor on my driver’s license,” said Alexis.
She was out of surgery first. Soon after, Jheremi received that very kidney. Nearly five hours later, he was also out of surgery. Jheremi’s prayers were answered, leaving him forever indebted.
“I always prayed that the Lord would send me a miracle, you know, a blessing. Just to know that the whole time, that my miracle and my blessing laid beside me for the last 11 years,” Jheremi said, tearing up.
The couple’s son showed remarkable will power during the whole ordeal.
“He said, ‘Well daddy, if something happen to you and you not here anymore, what momma and I gonna’ do?'” said Jheremi. “I’ve always kept that in my mind and I kept fighting.”
For this family, this year’s Thanksgiving means just a little more. Jheremi is two weeks into recovery and is required to wear a mask to prevent any infections. Limited to staying in, the family is ensuring their Thanksgiving meal is still an enjoyable one.
You could say Jheremi carries his wife in his heart, as many husbands most likely would, but he also literally carries a part of her within him now.
“She’s been my everything through everything I’ve been through,” said Jheremi. “I have so much stuff to be thankful and grateful for.”
“To know that my husband is going to be here with us for I don't know how much longer on the strength of me is like wow, I couldn't ask for anything more,” said Alexis.
It’s what makes this Thanksgiving one of the best she could have ever asked for.
Click here for information about how to become an organ donor in Louisiana.