Nashville woman donates kidney to her husband | Ascension

Nashville woman donates kidney to her husband

A Nashville couple turns to Ascension Saint Thomas Kidney Transplant Center for a kidney transplant, where a patient receives his wife's kidney.

When Wendy and Rayme Phillips were married at 19 they never imagined that 40 years later they would face a health concern together. The Nashville couple lived up to their vows through sickness and health when the Phillips turned to Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital West to find care for Rayme’s kidney failure.

It was young love. The Phillips, both 60, met at a church gathering and started dating in January 1980. A little over a year later, in April 1981 the couple married. "The thing that we really had in common was our spiritual life," said Wendy. "We had a love for the church, and that's what drew us together." 

The Philips had their first child in 1984 and were later blessed with two more. Rayme worked hard all his life, and by age 30, he became an insurance agent. "It just was the perfect fit for him," said Wendy. "He is a very outgoing person, and he has thrived in his career." Because of his work, the family could travel around the world and have some amazing experiences together.

High blood pressure is a sign of kidney disease

Although Rayme was diagnosed with high blood pressure, he lived an active life. He enjoyed playing golf and felt fine doing everyday activities. In 2017, he saw his primary care doctor for a routine check-up and was asked to give a urine sample. "I think that is what prompted them to do an ultrasound on my kidneys. I didn't feel any different," said Rayme. "I was still doing everything I wanted to do." 

The results of his check-up revealed that Rayme had one working kidney. The doctor's treatment included supplements to help with his kidney function. "Things were not getting better," said Wendy. "We were scared things were taking a turn for the worse and thankful we were referred, by a friend, to see a nephrologist.” 

Ascension Saint Thomas provides advanced kidney care

After many doctor evaluations, Rayme's name was placed on the kidney transplant list in August 2021. His family began the process to see if they could donate their kidney. At first, Rayme's daughter decided to see if she was a match, and it turned out she was. Unfortunately, with the genetic kidney disease that runs in Rayme's family, they could not accept her as a donor. Since his children could not donate, Wendy decided to see if she was a match. "I got the call in November that I was a match, and I can't even tell you the excitement I felt. I just thought, 'this is it, this is what I'm supposed to do,'" she said.

Once Wendy was identified as a donor, the Phillips were referred to Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital West, a full-service kidney transplant center, for the transplant surgery. The Ascension Saint Thomas Kidney Transplant Center program includes access to a team of transplant surgeons, nephrologists, nurses, dietitians and pharmacists. 

 "The staff at Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital West were amazing. They explained everything to us. They just made you feel like everything was going to be okay," Wendy shared.

Ascension Saint Thomas Kidney Transplant Center is recognized for fast transplant rates which means patients wait less time for a kidney by The Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients. Shorter wait times for kidney transplants impact patients' survival after being placed on the waiting list. Transplant surgeon, Derrick Moore, MD, at Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital West, performed their surgery on January 28th.

 "I never really thought that Wendy would be a match," said Rayme. "I am just very fortunate." Wendy and Rayme are recovering from their procedure and looking forward to a healthier future. 

Personalized kidney transplant care for donors and recipients 

At Ascension Saint Thomas Kidney Transplant Center in Nashville, TN, our nephrologists and transplant surgeons deliver personalized care for end-stage renal disease and chronic kidney failure. Our doctors listen to understand your health needs and provide comprehensive care. We're here for you whether you need non-surgical care or a kidney transplant. Talk to a doctor today by calling 615-222-6618 or visiting