One evening, Chantal Melsonson was out at a country bar with some friends, when a stranger came over to say hello. It was the second day of the 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas. The guy introduced himself as Austin Monfort, but the woman was too busy hanging out with girlfriends, and kind of brushed him off.
What she didn’t know was that 24 hours later, this man would help save her from one of the most devastating mass shootings in America. In the weeks following, Chantel and Austin supported each other, even though Chantel is based in Canada, and he is in California. The two ultimately fell in love and celebrated their wedding last November.
A Love Story Begins
Chantel Melsonson said that they were planning on going back to Las Vegas for a huge wedding party with family and friends. Unfortunately, that had to be postponed due to coronavirus. “We’ve dealt with everything by focusing on the positive. There was a reason we met when we did. We needed each other to live in this chaos.”
Chantel (now 29) only decided to go to the festival because one of her friends was going, and called her a few days before with an extra ticket. Her work gave her a few days off, so she was able to travel from Canada to Las Vegas for the fateful three-day event.
Where Are Your Boots, Cowboy?
Austin (now 24) was out celebrating his 21st birthday with some friends. He first met his future-wife at Gilley’s- a famous country music bar. Chantel made fun of Austin for not wearing cowboy boots, but that didn’t turn him away. Instead, he smiled her across the dance floor, continuing to try his luck.
Eventually, they started talking and dancing together, and they both felt a spark. Chantel explains: “It just felt like we knew each other forever. We went to grab a bite after the bar and exchanged numbers. Chantel’s friends wanted to go shopping the next day, but she texted Austin to see if he maybe wants to go to the festival early. He was already there.
The Calm Before the Storm
Chantel and Austin made their way towards each other. She hung out with him and his friends; they were all listening to music and dancing. Even after her friends got there, Chantel was still hanging out with Austin. But just after 10 pm, a horrific tragedy took place.
Stephen Paddock opened fire towards the crowd. He was shooting from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay, Bay Hotel, where Paddock had a suite. The hotel was just above the concert. Austin, Chantel, and the other 22,000 people in the audience were listening to Jason Aldean on stage. No one really expected anything like this to happen.
Not only did nobody expect a shooting, but even after shots fired, people weren’t sure what was going on at first. Shantel explained: “We thought it was fireworks at the beginning since all big concerts usually have some kind of fireworks, however, when it wasn’t stopping, everyone dropped to the ground.”
She went on to say, “We were on the ground across from each other, so we both were looking at each other. We stayed on the ground for a while, and the shots were not stopping.” At that point, Austin’s friend’s parents, who went with them, told everyone to find safety because their shots were non-stop.
Protecting His Girl
Chantel went on to say, “Everyone ran in different directions, but Austin stayed with me, and we ran together. We ran across the entire festival grounds stopping a few times to get shelter.” He held her tight, and the pair managed to escape the gunfire. Unfortunately, not everyone was so lucky.
That day became one of the most notable mass shootings in America. Fifty-eight innocent people were killed at the concert, and another 869 people were injured. After shooting up the concert, the perpetrator shot himself in his hotel suite. Police later found him there, dead.
Lucky to be Alive
Chantel and Austin were extremely lucky. Both of them, and their friends, got out of the concert alive and unharmed. Chantel said, “We eventually ran onto a side street and jumped into a taxi with a lady already in the car. We were about to leave, when another lady was running towards us holding her leg and stomach- she had been shot.”
Chantel continued, “We were all strangers at that point but tried to help one another and rush her to the hospital. We stayed in the hospital overnight due to lockdown, and Austin never left my side. He held me through the night and kept me safe. After what we had just gone through, he was my safe place.
Going Back Home
The day after the shooting, Austin went back home to California, and Chantel’s flight back was the next day. After they were both home and safe, the pair continued to keep in touch. They started to Facetime every day, and it didn’t take long for them to fall in love. Who would have thought?
Chantel says: “He was the only person I wanted to talk to. It just felt so right and safe talking to him after what we went through. He told me he would come to visit me in Canada. Six weeks later, he made his promise! And we never spent more than six weeks apart, either me going to California or him Canada.”
Immigration Make Thing Difficult
Being together wasn’t always easy for the happy couple because of immigration rules. Chantel explained: “We had very important life conversations earlier on since we were from two different countries, we had to figure out what life would be like if we stayed together and made this work.”
After spending 18 beautiful months together in Laguna Beach, Austin finally proposed to his girlfriend on March 8th, 2019. Chantel expressed, “Laguna has been out little getaway since our relationship started. We loved to escape to Laguna for a day or two and just soak all of it in, just me and him.”
Will You Marry Me?
She continued, “He brought me to our favorite beach, and there was no one around. It was perfect. His heart was beating out of his chest when he gave me a hug, and he got down on one knee and proposed, followed by a beautiful three-course meal.” How romantic!
As a nod to their first-ever conversation, Austin wore cowboy boots on the beach. He even pulled the ring out of one of the boots when he popped the question. After the beautiful proposal, the couple applied for a K1 Visa. That basically means that a U.S. citizen’s fiancé can move to the country to be with them, as long as they get married within 90 days.
The Courthouse Wedding
In September 2019 (10 months later), the Visa was finally granted! This meant that Chantal couldn’t legally work in the United States until her green card is granted. Still, she was super excited to move in with the love of her life in San Diego. “We drove from Alberta, Canada to San Diego, California. It was the most exciting road trip ever!”
She went on to explain, “We had a courthouse wedding for our visa on 1 November as we had to get legally married within 90 days of me entering the country. We made it very small, but I still wanted a few pictures taken because it was still a very important day.”
Coronavirus Ruined Their Celebration
Ever since then, the couple has been planning a big wedding party so that they could celebrate with friends and family. The exciting event was scheduled for May 8th this year. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus situation, it had to be postponed.
Chantal explained, “It’s been a bit stressful as so much planning has gone into it with my whole family living in Canada and his California.” Still, it’s a beautiful thing that they were able to make it work. Chantel and Austin proved that sometimes the best love stories could stem from tragic world events.
Love Will Always Find you
This isn’t the only love story that came out of a massive tragedy. You can find love in the most surprising ways. Riona Kelly suffered a stroke and fell down the stairs. She was just 37-years old when she found out she may never be able to walk again. To make matters worse, her husband of 14 years left her.
Although she had to accept the fact that she was paralyzed, Kelly fought through. Even though her husband wanted a divorce, she wanted to get better so that she could play with her children. On her journey to recovery, she met 35-year old Keith Mason. He was working as a personal trainer, but their relationship quickly turned into a full-blown romance!
The Fateful Fall
In March 2015, Riona Kelly fell down the stairs and was told she would never be able to walk again. The 37-year-old mother of four suffered a rare spinal stroke and was left paralyzed from her waist down. Thanks to the support of her personal trainer (and now partner) Keith Mason, Kelly can now walk and even jump.
After her fall down the stairs, Kelly was rushed to the hospital, and five days into her stay, her husband of 14 years decided the marriage was over. It should be noted that her ex-husband claims he told Riona he wanted a divorce the day before the stroke, but she said it happened afterward.
Holding on to Hope
Luckily, Kelly found a new love and is excited to have a future with Keith Mason, a 35-year-old ex-rugby player and personal trainer. Mason helped her defy all of the doctor’s expectations. Originally, Kelly was told that six weeks after her stroke, she would be able to take her first steps.
Sadly, those six weeks have come and gone, and Kelly still wasn’t able to move her legs. Doctors said she might never be able to. However, they turned out to be wrong. With the help of a parallel bar, Kelly took her first steps two weeks later.
The Dream Team
In January 2016, Kelly started training with Mason. They kept it professional when they worked together, but afterward, they continued to stay in touch. It didn’t take long for a romance to blossom. The two are great together. Kelly, who is from Halifax, West Yorkshire, has since completed two marathons with the help of Mason and her wheelchair.
She explained on Instagram that she still suffers: “I don’t enjoy being paralyzed one bit. It’s bloody hard!! I miss being able-bodied. I miss running around with my kids and doing things in the spur of the moment.” I guess most of us don’t appreciate our healthy functioning bodies.
Making Miracles Happen
She continued, “I miss feeling the warmth on my legs, splashing puddles with my kids, and feeling the water bounce off my skin. I really miss having the full use of my legs; I just miss silly little things that most of us take for granted.” Kelly added that whenever she does feel sad, Mason is there to bring her back up.
She wrote, “As I lay crying, my loving partner just held me and told me how much I inspired him, how much he loves me, and that it’s ok to feel frustrated and to cry. He reassured me that he was there for me and how much I meant to him.”
Abandoned by her Husband
Kelly feels really safe with Mason. She thinks he was what her life was missing, and she believes that he’s “perfectly made” for her. She said: “I thank the Lord for bringing my soulmate into my life. Apart from my children, I have never loved anyone the way I love my best friend.
Kelly recalled: “After my husband left me in the hospital, my friend, Sarah, became my next of kin. It was her and the children that supported me during my recovery.” I think it’s safe to say that Kelly’s first husband was a jerk! I mean, no matter what the circumstances, if your wife suffers a stroke, you should be there for her.
She May Never be Able to Walk Again
She went on to say, “Looking back, I was miserable in my marriage, but we had built a life together and had responsibilities. It was the time I needed my husband the most.” When Kelly couldn’t walk six weeks after the stroke, the doctor’s warned her that she might never be able to recover.
“It was at this point that doctors told me I would never walk again.” She went on to explain: “I’d had a car accident 18 months previous, and they said that could have caused problems in my spine.” It wasn’t easy for the mom to adjust to life in a wheelchair, especially without her husband supporting her.
Life in a Wheelchair
Kelly explained how miserable she was: “The first time I went out in a wheelchair I thought everyone was looking at me, I hated it and I hated myself. If someone had given me the choice I would have ended my life, I didn’t want to live anymore.” I can’t even begin to imagine how devastating it must feel, never to be able to walk again.
With the help of a miracle and hours of physiotherapy, Kelly finally took her first steps on the parallel bar. Looking back at her excitement, she explained, “I was dragging my body, and I had no feeling in my legs, but I didn’t care. I was walking, and that’s all that mattered.”
Riona’s First Steps
It was a very special moment. Kelly recalled, “My consultant was very emotional. He couldn’t believe I had done it with the help of a standing frame. Every day I built up my strength, and after four months in the hospital, I was finally allowed to go home.”
Kelly went on explaining that even though she was learning to walk, it wasn’t as easy as it used to be. “It took me 25 minutes to get up 16 steps and, at the same time, to come back down again, but I was determined to do it for my children.”
Meeting Her Soulmate
While she was recovering, Kelly met Keith Mason. They spent a few physiotherapy sessions together before falling in love. She said: “After suffering a stroke, not only did I have to deal with paralysis, but I had to deal with losing my partner of 14 years.”
She went on, “After our session, Keith and I stayed in contact, he would ask me how I was getting on, and our relationship blossomed from there. We have now been together for 11 months, the children really like him, and I finally feel like I’m living the life I deserve.”
Recovering and Stronger Than Ever!
Ever since then, Ronda’s recovery has significantly improved. She ran two marathons with her wheelchair but didn’t need assistance for short walks. “I now only need my wheelchair to go long distances, but my home hasn’t been adapted, so I try not to use it,” she explained. “Looking back, going through what I did was the best thing to ever happen.
She found love out of a shocking tragedy. She is finally healing and getting better and better each day. And the best part is that she has a love of her life, right there beside her. “I’m now back in the gym, and with Keith’s help, I’m getting better and stronger than ever.”
The Ex-husbands Response
Richard, Riona’s ex-husband, responded. “I told Riona I wanted a divorce the morning before her stroke, not whilst she was in the hospital.” Whether it was an hour before or a month before, they were still married at the time. I personally believe he should have stayed with her through the hardest time of her life.
He continued: “Whilst she was in the hospital I visited as much as I could of an evening, I had to take care of the children, look after the house, and run a business. I lived in the house with Riona and the kids until last June before I eventually moved out, and we have now both moved on.”
The Wrong Text
I guess there are two sides to every story. But the most important thing is that Riona Kelly found someone better. After her husband left her and found out that she may never walk again, her soul mate walked right into her life. It’s not always tragedies that can become love stories. Sometimes, little coincidences can change everything.
Sometimes, you are in the right place at the right time. Maybe at a bar, or even a grocery store. However, sometimes it’s a little bit more random. Normally when the wrong number texts me, I say it’s the wrong number, and everyone continues on with their life. But in this case, a wrong text message led to a beautiful love story.
When we meet a couple, one of the questions we like to ask is, “so how did you two meet?” The answers involve a high school, work, online dating, and maybe even a matchmaker. But how often do you hear a couple say that they met by accident through a text message? It’s the first time I’ve heard of anything like that. Henry and Kasey would agree that the way they met is super unconventional and even strange.
They would also tell you that what happened after those initial text messages is even stranger and more unlikely. But it’s their story nonetheless. This is how Henry Glendening and Kasey Bergh met through an accidental text message that became the catalyst to a love story that would ultimately land Henry in a hospital bed. Read on to see the unexpected chain of events that created a bond between them that will last forever. Who knew that such an innocent and accidental text would lead to what these two eventually went through!
The First Text
“Hey, it’s Kasey. I was supposed to connect with Maria in the park but her plane was delayed so I’m at the Westin.” That’s the beginning of a text message that Kasey Berg sent by accident to Henry Glendening. She meant to send it to her colleague, but it landed in Henry’s inbox instead. Kasey was on a business trip in Denver at the time and was hoping to see her friend and colleague on her downtime. She worked for Nestlé-Purina.
The text found its way into Henry’s inbox, who was, at that point, a complete stranger. He received it at about 2 p.m. while driving to work, which was in the paint department at the Lowe’s in Maplewood. While many people would likely ignore a random text message that was obviously sent by accident, Henry felt the need to reply and tell this person that it was a mistake.
He Responded to Her
Henry wanted to show some courtesy to this person who clearly thinks they sent a message to a friend. He didn’t want her to be left high and dry, so he replied to the text right away. He informed Kasey that she texted the wrong person. “Sorry, you’ve got the wrong number. But if I wasn’t headed to work, I’d be down to hang,” he wrote in his text.
His first response to her first message led to an apology from Kasey, who went on to complain about being stuck in Denver, and how she was unable to connect with her co-workers and make progress on a big project. “I was so frustrated because I couldn’t connect with anyone, and then the only person on the planet I connect with was the wrong number,” Kasey later said in an interview.
The Beginning of a Relationship
It didn’t take long until they realized that they had a lot more in common with each other than they probably thought. The text messages turned into emails (long ones), and the two would discuss their interests and beliefs, discovering how much they were alike. Henry wrote to her, saying that he was planning a trip out West, with a stop in Colorado.
The texting continued. He asked her if she knew of “The Secret,” a best-selling book about the law of attraction. It turns out they both believe in this Law of Attraction, which states that positive thoughts can attract anything you put your mind to. They were clearly beginning a relationship, but as many people would feel in a situation like this, Henry felt that this was too good to be true.
What is She Hiding?
For a week, the two kept texting, recommending books, movies, and music to each other. For the record: Henry loves electronica while Kasey is more of a classic rock fan. But Henry felt like there must be something he doesn’t know about Kasey; that she was keeping something from him. There had to be a secret of some kind, and his instincts were right.
The secret Kasey was hiding from this mystery man was that she was 30 years older than him. It came to a point where he asked her age. “Well, I’m 25 in my heart,” she wrote, avoiding the question the first time. But if they were making plans to meet in person, she knew she had to come clean. “Here it is. I’m 53,” she said.
He Didn’t Flinch
Her text message stating her age popped up on his phone’s screen. Kasey was worried that the age difference would be a factor that could spoil their developing relationship. But when she gathered up the courage to tell Henry, she was surprised to see that Henry, then 23 years old, didn’t care at all! He continued to talk to her despite the huge age gap.
“It really didn’t make any difference,” Henry later said. “We were so connected at that point through deeper stuff.” One week after their first SMS exchange, the two decided to meet in person and met up at Coffee Cartel in the Central West End. Henry said how it was an instant attraction. “It’s not like she had an aura. I’m not sure how that kind of thing works. But there was this positive, open energy about her,” he said.
When Kasey Met Henry
After coffee, the two went to Fair St. Louis in Forest Park to see the band Third Eye Blind perform in a concert. Kasey had tickets to the concert and asked Henry if he wanted to come along. And, of course, Henry accepted her offer. It was as though the law of attraction was coming into play already. At the concert, Henry stood behind Kasey and had the guts to place his hands on her waist.
“He was standing behind me and put his hands on my hips, a slightly intimate gesture,” Kasey said. This was a pivotal moment, where she said their relationship moved beyond friendship. They ended up spending the rest of the evening having drinks at Vin de Set, a rooftop restaurant in Lafayette Square.
Drinks Lead to Another Date
They decided to meet again for a second date at Kaldi Coffee. Kasey got there early and ordered an iced Mayan Mocha (her go-to drink in the summer). When Henry got there, he ordered the same thing. The universe was showing its signs! Apart from the same coffee order, they found out that they shared other things as well.
It was a short date because Henry had to hit the road and head for Great Basin National Park in Nevada. He told Kasey that he was planning a solo trip to focus on what he wants to do with his life. “I was in this awful place. I didn’t want to do retail forever,” he explained. So their relationship was about to be interrupted.
They Wouldn’t Be in Contact Anymore
“I just wanted to take a week and a half, go out West, and go where I can see the stars really, really well. The whole trip was about solitude, reconnecting with the universe and myself.” As Bergh remembers it, she said: “He had sworn up and down that he would not be in contact while gone.” Their new relationship that started with a text was now going to be dormant for a while.
Kasey didn’t know what to expect. She clearly liked the guy and felt that it was a mutual feeling. But they both thought that starting a relationship together would be slim. Henry was in a rocky relationship with another woman, was unhappy with his job, didn’t like his job working in retail, and wanted to unplug and think. Kasey, on the other hand, gave up on love after 6 years of being divorced.
He Went on His Way
Henry was driving through Kansas when he passed a field with sunflowers. He had emotions surge through him, feeling like Kasey’s energy was there. So he decided to take a little detour and went to the field to and pick out a sunflower which he kept on his dashboard. That sunflower remained there for the rest of his trip.
Henry couldn’t deny the strong feeling and close connection to Kasey. He was starting to think that it wasn’t just a crush. But he told Kasey that he wouldn’t be in contact with her during his trip. But when he got to the western edge of Utah, about half an hour from the national park, he checked himself into a hotel and contacted Kasey.
A Not So Simple Voice Memo
Henry ended up cutting his trip short by a few days. He said it was because the weather forecast called for cloudy skies, which wasn’t ideal for his plans for stargazing. But I think we can also assume that he just wanted to see Kasey, who meanwhile was listening over and over again to the voice memo that he left for her.
He couldn’t get her off of his mind, and everything was reminding him of her. While Henry tried to remind himself that he needed to stick to his word and not do anything crazy, he ended up caving and left her a voice memo. It simply said: “I love you.” There you go – he said it. Now he just needed to see what she would say.
The Same Wavelength
“I was just like ‘wow.’ Someone else might have seen this guy as over the top,” Kasey later said of how she felt when receiving that voice message. But that three-word message didn’t freak her out. It did, however, make her rethink her thoughts on having a serious relationship. Kasey was still getting to know him, but there was something real between them.
“From the very, very beginning, it felt like we were on the same wavelength,” Henry said. Kasey kept replaying the voicemail again and again. They never would have guessed that a mistake text message would bring them to this point – to this declaration of love. And they especially had no idea of what was in store for them.
Giving Love Another Chance
At that point, Kasey was divorced and had been single for years. “I had totally embraced that I was single and that I never needed a guy,” she explained. “Then, I met Henry.” She decided to give love another chance and very soon, Henry and Kasey became a couple. And their friends and families were really happy for them.
Despite the age gap, their friends accepted the fact that they seemed to be meant for each other. No one voiced any doubts or reservations about their relationship. Henry and Kasey were simply a good fit for each other, despite the age difference. They brought out the best in each other, and Kasey was good at helping Henry figure out for himself which direction to go in his life, which was at a major turning point.
She Was Inspiring Him
Before he met Kasey, he often felt like his life was going nowhere. “Kasey is a huge inspirer. She wasn’t recommending or advocating any particular direction I go, but she encouraged exploring, finding out what I want to do.” He went to the University of Missouri in Columbia but never finished. He was also interested in developing apps.
Kasey suggested that he begin “informational interviews to find out how people got to where they got to.” A friend of Henry’s worked at a digital agency and agreed to introduce him to the head of the company. After a chat with the guy, Henry was offered an internship, which then led to a job.
But at that point, Henry was still living at home with his parents…
People Would Stare
Their partnership was unorthodox, and even though their families and friends accepted it, everyone else was still adjusting to it. An age gap of 30 years is uncommon, especially when the woman is the much older one of the pair. “You can’t blame them,” Henry said of people who gave them looks. “It’s not a relationship you see very often. One that defies the age stereotype.”
Kasey was an executive working for Purina, and Henry was meeting her colleagues, most of whom were high up on the corporate ladder. The couple would attend work functions. “Initially, there was that social anxiety, that people would think he was my son,” Kasey said. But with time, the anxiety decreased and the two became more secure.
They Moved In Together
It was only two months after that first text message that they decided to take the next step. Kasey had her own place, while Henry was still living with his parents. So they figured moving in together was the right move. Henry then moved out of his parents’ house and into Kasey’s apartment in Lafayette Square.
Both Kasey and Henry believed that things happen for a reason. A text message brought him to Kasey, who became the love of his life. He was living with her, admired her, appreciated her, and knew that it was a matter of time until he would go ahead and pop the big question. At this point, they had been together for two years.
Popping the Question
On June 29, 2014, two years after Kasey sent that text, they went to Vin De Set, the restaurant where they had their first drinks together after the concert. Henry had it all planned out. While they were sitting at a table having dinner, he excused himself to go to the bathroom. He went over to an employee and handed him his iPod. His instructions were: “Wait for 15 to 20 seconds before pushing play.”
He then walked back to the table, dropped down to one knee, pulled out a ring box from his pocket, and held it open for Kasey to see. As he was proposing to her, Kasey could hear her favorite song playing quietly in the background. “I knew he had arranged that too. It’s not a song you’d typically hear in a place like that,” she said. The song? Led Zeppelin’s “Thank You.”
“If the sun refused to shine, I would still be loving you. When mountains crumble to the sea, there will still be you and me…”
Of Course, She Said Yes!
Yes, obviously, she said yes to Henry! Kasey later recounted how she had come a long way from a girl who thought that she didn’t need a man in her life to say yes to the man of her dreams. But no one expected that the couple would end up getting married. But that’s exactly what they did. Three years after their first exchange, Henry and Kasey got married.
They wed at the floodwall of the Mississippi River, which was a spot covered by graffiti by local artists from St. Louis. It was one of Henry’s favorite spots and what he thought would be an ideal place for them to get hitched.
Things were going great for the newlyweds until things took a turn for the worse…
In Sickness and In Health
After everything was going well for a while, things started to go south. Kasey had an underlying health condition. Her kidneys were failing, and it was starting to take over her daily life. She had to undergo 3 to 4 dialysis treatments every week. The couple knew that it was going to be a serious problem because she had a kidney transplant years before they met.
This wasn’t a secret or anything, though. Kasey was upfront about her health, and Henry knew about the transplant and the impending health issues before they got married. He was aware that Kasey would need a new kidney soon, but that wasn’t going to stop him from being with her. In sickness and in health, right?
Finding a Donor
Nearly 20 years ago, Kasey went through the same process of finding a kidney donor. She knew how difficult it would be to do it all over again. The average time it takes to find a kidney transplant is five years, so they had to accept that the dialysis treatments would have to continue and become a part of their life.
They were now two years into their marriage, and all of their plans were going to have to be put on hold. Henry was a helper and doer and determined to find a way to help the woman whom he loved so much. He was desperate to find a solution. And desperate times call for desperate measures. So Henry came up with a solution…
Donating His Own Kidney
Henry wanted to see if he would be able to donate his own kidney to his wife. This would be seen as quite odd since most of the kidneys that are donated to those in need are from relatives, not spouses. However, Henry didn’t wanna give up. He knew he was going to have to undergo many tests to determine whether or not his kidney was even viable for Kasey.
But that wasn’t going to stop him from trying. So he went through a series of tests to see if he would be a match. The tests showed that he was indeed a positive match and able to donate his kidney. The doctors wanted him to know, though, that Kasey’s body could reject the kidney.
What Are the Chances?
Yet, in spite of all the risks, Henry knew that he wanted to give his kidney to his wife. He had no second thoughts. The tests showed that Henry had the blood group O, which meant he could technically donate an organ to a person of any blood type. Kasey had a low volume of antibodies that could potentially attack Henry’s kidney.
Her doctors even said, “Not only did she marry her soul mate, but she married her immunologic soul mate.” What are the chances? The doctors themselves were amazed at what they were witnessing. When Kasey told her doctors how the two had met, the staff at the hospital started to cry. It was an emotional and inspiring story in the making. And they were a part of it.
Before the Surgery
John Herlihy, who is a close friend of the couple, came to visit Kasey on the last day of her dialysis before her surgery. He brought her balloons to make her feel better. Some people from a local coffee shop, who were also friends of the couple, came to wish her well. They had clearly made friends and inspired people around them.
The day arrived, and the couple made their way to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. The following few hours would decide their future. The doctors prepared to remove one of Henry’s kidneys and prepare the transfer to Kasey. As they said their goodbyes before getting wheeled away, Kasey said to Henry: “We’re doing this thing, huh?” and Henry said, “YES.”
Logic or Love?
The doctor talked to Henry and his father about the surgery and informed them of all the risks that were involved in donating a kidney. Henry was aware of all of the risks, but he had no second thoughts. He was ready to go through with it. He saw it as the logical choice since he wouldn’t have any trouble living with one kidney.
However, to this day, Kasey doesn’t think that it was logical that drove Henry to do this incredible deed. She believes that the decision was not logical at all. That instead, he was driven by his love for her. She was constantly amazed by the things Henry was doing for her and was very grateful. Now it was a matter of time to see what the results were.
The Surgeries Were a Success
Both surgeries were successful. There was a necessary but brief recovery period which meant that Henry and Kasey wouldn’t be able to see each other. Henry’s parents were supportive during the whole process and waited with him by his hospital bed until he was able to see his wife again. Henry was pretty much out of it, but he was eager to see Kasey.
That night was hard for Kasey because she was suffering from bouts of nausea. When morning came, the first thing she saw was a beautiful bouquet of sunflowers in her hospital room. Remember the sunflowers that Henry saw on his solo trip? Henry ordered the sunflowers days before this morning came, knowing = they would cheer her up. And they did.
No More Dialysis
Henry finally went over to Kasey’s room with his parents, and everyone was so happy to hear that the surgeries were a success. Kasey remembers asking Henry if he really did give her his kidney. Henry softly replied with a “yes.” A full recovery was a long way to go, but Kasey was now off the hook for dialysis treatments.
The couple was released from the hospital, but they still had to follow a very strict recovery regimen. Kasey definitely had it harder than Henry since she had to take 11 pills a day to keep her body from rejecting her new kidney. While the chances were slim, the doctors weren’t going to take any chances. Henry, too, had to take some pills daily.
Getting Back on Track
Henry knew that they were going to need a hobby to pass the time while they were recovering at home. He decided to try his favorite childhood toys: Legos. He bought a set before being admitted to the hospital. It may seem childish, but it helped him pass the time. Even Kasey helped him every now and then.
Every day, the couple took short walks to make sure Kasey would gain her strength back. It also allowed them to bond even more. After their walks, Kasey would get tired and take a short nap before continuing on with the rest of her day. Their four cats also served as a welcome distraction for both of them.
They also decided to memorialize something special…
Framing Their Texts
The couple decided to turn their text messages into framed art. They saw it as a token of their first conversation as strangers and an homage to what it turned out to be. The framed art hangs on the walls in their home and reminds them of their special story. They say that it also humbles them to realize that there’s always a bigger plan in action.
Word of their story entered the mainstream, and there was a lot of buzz around this amazing couple who were lucky to have each other in their lives. Their love story went viral after a local newspaper published a piece about them. They started to receive mail from people around the world with words of encouragement and admiration.
They Created a Blog
The couple created a blog where they would keep people updated on their daily lives and the status of their relationship. It allowed readers from around the world to get a personal view of their relationship and their story. The couple documented their travels and future prospects and common interests. They also spoke of the requests people were making of them.
With all the love and admiration that came pouring in from all parts of the world, people were asking Henry and Kasey to turn their love story into a TV series or even a movie. But they didn’t plan on doing any of that. The blog should suffice. In the blog, Henry and Kasey have some messages that they like to share.
First of all, Henry encourages everyone healthy to donate a kidney or be an organ donor which can increase the chances of someone getting a much-needed kidney somewhere in the country. He says this can mean saving or improving up to 75 lives for every person who becomes an organ donor. With those numbers, donating a kidney was a logical choice!
The couple says the success of their relationship is thanks to five simple things: affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. They believe that it takes these five things to make a relationship really work, and if any of them are missing it could lead to the downfall of a relationship.
Henry and Kasey are avid readers, and a lot of their broad perspectives come from the various books that they read. They also find solace in times of need by reading books. They said in their blog how they highly recommend The Celestine Prophecy, a book that Henry read after a friend of his had disappeared and passed away under mysterious circumstances.
He said the book gave him an insight into how things happen in life. Kasey and Henry’s story may sound too good to be true, but it’s just what it is. The couple believes they met for a reason and that the Universe or God or whatever had a plan for them. Kasey said ever since she was 23, opportunities presented themselves to her, and Henry was one that came along.
Recovering Almost Too Well!
A few months after the kidney transplant, Kasey and Henry are happy and attending activities like baseball games and concerts. People who know them well say it does not look like they underwent surgery at all. They recovered so well, and it is likely due to their bond and dedication to one another. Such endings are rare today, where we almost expect something bad to happen.
But if there was any couple that deserved such a fairy tale ending, it was Henry and Kasey. Henry and Kasey aren’t the only couples where one gives an organ to the other. In their case, it was successful and all is well. But that’s not always the case. Take the next couple for example…
She Donated a Kidney. Now She Wants it Back
Samantha Lamb saved her husband’s life when she gave him one of her kidneys. But after he got better, he left her. Samantha, a mother of one child, is furious because she believes that her husband Andy cheated on her. And because of that, she wants to take her organ back! Not for herself, but to give it to “someone more deserving.”
Andy denies ever cheating on her. Samantha, age 41, told the Sunday People: “I can’t believe he now has a second chance to live to see his grandchildren grow up. I would definitely go through the operation again, but I wouldn’t give the kidney to him. I hate him. If I could, I’d take it back and give it someone else.”
In the Beginning
Samantha said that she doesn’t want people to be put off adding their names to the organ donor list. But all she wants from her husband is his name on the divorce papers. Samantha met Andy, age 45, while they were both drivers for a private ambulance firm. And, of course, things went very well at first.
She recalled how they got together in 2004. He was on living on in Essex, and she was in London. “Andy was quick-witted and used to make me laugh. He had loads of one-liners.” They split up and got back together and ended up getting married in 2007. “We had a nice life, although there were signs that Andy wasn’t what I had hoped for. He was controlling, like not letting me wear perfume every day.”
There Were Warning Signs
Samantha admits that by the time they planned to go under the knife and go through with the kidney transplant surgery, there were already some warning signs and that she should have spotted them. They had a three-bedroom house on a lovely street, and they thought they were happy. “Then, Andy became sick. His kidneys were failing. But he didn’t face up to it; he just got angry.”
“He thought the world was against him and everyone else was to blame. I loved him and wanted him to get better, but his moods were awful and he’d take it out on me.” Eventually, she made a very brave decision and even had to persuade him to accept one of her kidneys.
She Had to Persuade Him
“His condition had deteriorated. He needed a new kidney, or he would die. He was on dialysis three times a week.” She told her sick husband that he should go through with it. He already had children from another relationship and so he wanted to be there for them. That was the reason he went through with the transplant.
Before and after the kidney surgery, the couple was filmed for a BBC documentary about organ donation. Samantha said that it was the crew’s presence that made her scared that her sacrifice would not have a happy ending. “As soon as I went through with it, I knew I had done the wrong thing. Andy looked really ill before the operation, gaunt and grey.”
After the Surgery
After the transplant, Samantha felt awful, like she had been hit by a train. Meanwhile, Andy was the “picture of health and full of color.” She noticed how he had shaved for the camera. And when she mentioned it to him, he basically growled at her: “Don’t talk to me like that.” What a way to talk to someone who just gave you their kidney!
According to Samantha, everything went downhill from then on. Andy was as moody and resentful as he was before, even worse. He told her that she was never to mention the transplant surgery to anyone. “He said I could never throw it in his face,” she explained in the interview. For some reason, he was angry at her.
Anger and Guilt
“I’m sure the anger was caused by guilt,” Samantha figured. “He would spend hours on his laptop and then pick a fight that would end with him leaving for hours.” Then he would tell her that he was sitting in a parking lot, thinking. But she knew what he was really up to. She knew she had to confront him.
She confronted Andy about having an affair with her friend, Clare. “My mom and sister saw him with his arm around her. He denied it and stormed out.” She said they tried to salvage their broken marriage for the sake of Samantha’s daughter from a previous marriage, Beatrice. But she still felt like he was cheating, and so she confronted her friend.
Samantha said how Clare admitted to the affair and said she was in love with him. “I wanted to throttle Andy,” Samantha said. She got Clare to phone him and put him on the speaker. She wanted to hear his reaction when she told him, ‘Sam knows.’ And what did he say? He just said, ‘Oh.’ And what did Samantha do?
“I did what any woman would do. I cut up his clothes, put them in black garbage bags, and left them outside the house.” Apparently, she took him back for one more try. Only to find out that he was having online chats with women. Andy left for good in August of 2012, with his new kidney and all.
What Andy Had to Say
Samantha just wants a divorce. She is trying to get on with her life and deal with the frustration. And every time she sees her operation scar, she is reminded of how ungrateful her husband was. “At least he always has to remember where his kidney came from.” Andy was interviewed to see what he had to say about all this.
“I did walk out on Samantha after she’d donated her kidney, but I wasn’t unfaithful. I never wanted her to donate her kidney because it was a big risk. But she insisted, and I’ll always owe her my life. I loved her but our relationship wasn’t working. We had big rows and her family never liked me. Despite what Samantha believes, I’ve never been with her friend. I just helped train her dog.”