"Two years ago when I heard about this program, I would kid around and used to say and tell my husband, "What if we are the first patients, what if it's me that gets the first transplant"?"
Ten years ago Calle was diagnosed with polycystic kidneys, an inherited condition which causes cysts to form in the kidneys that eventually overtake their function. When it came time to look for a donor for a potential transplant, doctors began their search close to home with her husband Cesar, who wound up being a ideal match.
"It's my second opportunity at life, my husband keeps reminding that now I have a piece of him inside me", she said. The fact that I can actually travel now and not worry about carrying boxes with me or supplies or worry if it's gonna get lost.
Monica said of her husband, "This is an unbelievable, awesome gift". He works with a highly-talented team of nurses, perfusionist, social workers, nutritionist and laboratory medicine experts, who were all on cue for the recent transplant.
The Calles' transplant experience could have been fraught with emotional minefields. On Tuesday, such worries seemed beside the point. Dr. Juan Arenas said in the statement that they were very glad that they finally accomplished what they had set out to do. "It brings me joy and happiness".
This year's wedding anniversary on Thursday will be especially meaningful. "Not just physically, obviously, but also spiritually".
In the United States, there are about 100,000 patients who are awaiting an kidney donor, according to Arenas. There is a growing need for the Institute's services in Broward County, he said.
The kidney transplant program, offering pediatric and adult kidney transplantation, now joins Memorial's adult and pediatric cardiac transplant programs under the umbrella of the Memorial Transplant Institute. A future goal is to help patients with diseased livers get new organs. According to Give a Kidney, a person is able to donate of their kidneys and still live a generally safe life.
"My prayers were answered, because this is something that I wanted to do since she started dialysis", Cesar Calle said.
Monica added, "I'm sure a lot of us that are in this situation always wonder, 'When is our miracle happening?' And I tell everybody, 'Just hang on tight, fight your fight, because we are warriors, and your miracle will happen'".