Transplants

Former soccer player's ex-girlfriend steps forward as anonymous kidney donor

DC United's goalie Josh Wicks (R) gestures after making a save with teammates Marc Burch (L) and Clyde Simms (C) during their MLS soccer match against Chicago Fire in Washington June 13, 2009. REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang   (UNITED STATES SPORT SOCCER) - RTR24N13

DC United's goalie Josh Wicks (R) gestures after making a save with teammates Marc Burch (L) and Clyde Simms (C) during their MLS soccer match against Chicago Fire in Washington June 13, 2009. REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang (UNITED STATES SPORT SOCCER) - RTR24N13

A former D.C. United soccer player who also spent time on the New England Revolution roster before retiring in 2013 has found a loyal teammate in his ex-girlfriend, who volunteered to be his kidney donor.

Clyde Simms, 33, was diagnosed with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis when he was a freshman in high school, the Washington Post reported. During his playing career his kidney function decreased to 20 percent and he retired to begin a regiment of dialysis three days per week. His life expectancy without a transplant was 5 to 10 years.

He underwent a failed transplant last year and was placed back on the transplant list. Simms received a call from MedStar Georgetown University Hospital this fall after a donor came forward, according to The Post. The donor was not a direct match, however, but it set a paired donation in motion. Through this process, the Kidney Transplant Registry would be searched for a suitable match for Simms, and then the organ from his donor would go to someone else in need, and he would receive the matched one.

“I didn’t get my hopes up because I didn’t know how long I would have to wait,” Simms told The Post.

But around Thanksgiving, a match for Simms had been found, and Hunter, who had unbeknownst to Simms been listed as his donor, received the call letting her know she was a match for someone in need through the national registry.

The two had split amicably after six years, with his illness and distance creating a divide between them. At the time the calls had been made, they were not speaking regularly but were on good terms.

“Is there something you want to tell me?” Hunter told the newspaper she asked Simms.

“Georgetown called. They have a kidney for me,” he told her, according to The Post.

“I know,” she told him, explaining that it was her organ that facilitated the paired donation.

Simms told The Post that he was shocked at first, but glad that it was her.

“After I thought about it, I was happy it was her,” Simms said.

“She is the one person who saw me in all of the phases. She has seen me at my worst. For her to be the one, something felt right about it. It just felt right. In a way it all made sense,” he told The Post.

The pair went into surgery on Dec. 9, with Hunter’s organ going to a patient in the Baltimore area, and Simms coming from a donor in Indiana. They texted while hospitalized and Hunter was at Simms’ bedside the next day before she was released.

“I have moments because my body is still adjusting,” he told The Post, “but each day gets better and better.”
 

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