MURRAY — When Gerald Wayman arrived in Wisconsin over Easter weekend to visit his daughter, Shaleen Martel, she handed him a small gift-wrapped box for him to open.
Initially, Wayman thought his daughter was about to announce she was pregnant, but was surprised to find a pillow in the shape of a kidney.
Wayman, who had been struggling with a genetic kidney disease for 15 years, soon realized his daughter was donating her kidney to him. Attached with the gift was a small card that said she was a match and approved to be his donor. His daughter had quietly begun the process several weeks earlier.
"I hadn’t told my family because I didn’t want it to be another heartbreaking thing … only to have it taken away again." Martel said.
Prior to his daughter's organ donation, Wayman had received transplants from his brother and cousin, but the disease continued to "attack his kidneys."
It wasn't as if Wayman's search for a new kidney had brought up no volunteers. Forty people offered to be his donor, but none were matches. As a father of eight, doctors worried his children could also be at risk for developing the kidney disease.
A day after Father's Day, the successful transplant procedure took place at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray. The father and daughter have since been released from the hospital and are recovering.
“It is not all cupcakes and roses after the surgery, but it’s worth it to have my dad a few more years,” Martel said.
Martel called her decision to donate her kidney the best sacrifice she's ever made.