Love and kidneys: a perfect match
When it comes to describing the “how we first met” story of Dale and Betty Glunz, of Maple Lake, it’s like a scene straight out of a movie: paths cross unexpectedly, boy meets girl, and they fall in love.
This idea of finding a perfect match may sound serendipitous and thus rare or unrealistic, but for the Glunz’s, their “happy meeting” of each other proved to be a match in more ways than one.
Forty-five years ago, Betty found herself sitting in a booth at the Rockford House, a popular venue for dances. Growing up in Delano, it was well-known that the girls in her town didn’t mingle with Buffalo boys. One of her friends, however, found herself a boy from this neighboring town and convinced Betty to tag along with them to the dance.
“I was not a happy camper,” Betty said, remembering the night. “I did not want to be there at all.”
Despite her disdainful mood, she still managed to catch the eye of a boy who sat in the booth across from her, who repeatedly vied for her attention. Her attempts to ignore him did not work, and he eventually asked her to go out on a date. In this exact moment, she met Dale.
As the boy asked Betty out, Dale walked past her booth. Thinking quickly, Betty stood up, grabbed Dale’s arm and replied, “No, I’m going out with this guy!” Playing along, Dale mouthed his name to her so she could convince the other boy that they actually knew each other. In one final effort, the boy asked if she would be driving home in a ’73 Cadillac or a ’67 Ford pickup truck, giving her the choice to choose between him or Dale.
“I’m going in the pickup truck,” she replied.
As the boy finally walked away, Dale began to continue on his way but was stopped by a question.
“So, what time are you going to pick me up?” Betty asked him.
Dale & Betty
Recently celebrating 44 years of marriage, the Glunz’s have raised three children and are watching seven grandchildren grow up. As cinematic as their first meeting may seem, they have experienced both the good and hard times throughout the years. Spending decades treating Dale’s Reiter’s Syndrome Arthritis, which causes joint pain and eye problems, the couple proved their resilience in remaining hopeful for a solution.
Months and years of treatment and anti-inflammatory medicines took a very hard toll on his kidneys, and in January of 2019, the conversation about dialysis began. As Dale began to mentally prepare for dialysis, they meet with a kidney dietician and educator from The Kidney Foundation, who was the first to explain to them what a kidney transplant was. Dale was placed on the list in hopes of receiving one.
This list, however, includes approximately 100,000 people, and they would have to wait anywhere from five to ten years to make it to the top.
Thankfully, the donor list was not the only option.
As people do not need both kidneys, the option of being a living donor is available. In most cases, the second kidney is donated from a family member or close friend. Parents, siblings, and children tend to be the best choice for a match.
When they learned of this option, Betty turned to Dale, immediately knowing exactly what she needed to do.
“It’s me,” she said. “I know it’s me. I’m going to be your perfect match.”
The odds that a spouse is the perfect match are extremely low, but, sure enough, Betty’s kidney would be exactly that.
“On March 10, I received the call,” Betty said. “Even though I felt like I knew all along, it was still somewhat shocking, yet incredibly exciting.”
For Dale, the confirmation of his wife’s kidney being the perfect match brought an incredible amount of joy and thankfulness.
“It was an awesome feeling,” he said quietly, overcome by emotions.
Betty still can’t place a finger on her feeling she had of being the match he needed and thinking about the years of emotions leading up to news doesn’t leave a dry eye in the room.
Between COVID-19 forcing elective surgeries to be put on hold, Dale going into congestive heart failure, finding a small kidney stone in Betty’s donor kidney, and Dale needing an infected wisdom tooth removed, the surgery date kept being pushed out further and further.
Eventually, countless tests and piles of paperwork later, a successful surgery gave Dale a healthy kidney and no more need for dialysis. On July 27, they celebrated one month of recovery, which has been a steady and positive process.
Their youngest daughter, Angela, a professor at the University of Tennessee at Martin, flew in to take care of her parents after the surgery for three weeks. The post-surgery checkups and bloodwork confirmed that Dale’s body was accepting the kidney, and both were recovering very well.
“We’re feeling very blessed,” Dale said of the surgery and recovery.
Being a Donor
The learning process of being an organ donor was eye-opening for Dale and Betty, and even more so was learning about living donor options.
“[Being a donor] is something people maybe think of, but maybe not as much unless you are affected by it,” Betty said.
“It is a blessing, if you can do it,” Dale added.
The Kidney Organization is a resource that shares information about kidney and organ donation. In 2018 alone, they shared that 6,442 people received a living-donor kidney. Even if a person doesn’t match with a family member, a system is set up to give the kidney to another family who is a match for the other.
“It is a gift of kindness,” Dale said of his wife’s determination to donate.
To learn more about the kidney donation process, visit kidney.org.
Invitation to Submit Feature Story Suggestions
Wright County locals are invited to submit story ideas to be featured in the Wright County Journal-Press & The Drummer. Whether the story is of a person or group making a difference, a unique hobby, or reflects on the history of the county and cities in it, we want to use this space to highlight the heart of the community and the people who live in it.
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