Having booked to stay at the beautiful Hotel Paris in Florence to celebrate their 7th wedding anniversary in February 2000, Alan and Susan couldn’t help but feel their trip was overshadowed…
For Susan, it was a trip mostly spent curled up fast asleep in the back of the car while Alan drove, unable to fully enjoy the sights they had looked forward to – as Alan sketched “en plain air”. Having been diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease – a hereditary disease, she was slowly but surely suffering from kidney failure.
Susan bravely faced the difficult task of coping with nausea, headaches, extreme exhaustion and painful cramps. Their trip to Florence in February 2000 was certainly a turning point for the couple – their shared love of travel was suddenly cut short as Susan became too poorly to enjoy the adventures they had planned to take together. The Alan Reed Art Gallery in Eldon Gardens was busier than ever, which meant a trip to Rome without Susan, so Alan accompanied by his mother in 2001, to gather more inspiration for his exceptionally-popular Italian Collection of paintings which still resonate with lovers of the country today.
Since the kidneys are capable of functioning at up to 10 percent of their normal capacity, Susan hadn’t realised how ill she was until now. Faced with dialysis three times a week or a kidney transplant – something had to be done soon to rid Susan of the toxins in her body. To make the situation even more difficult; Susan has a rare tissue type which made finding a transplant match virtually impossible. With only three percent of the population predicted to be a match due to Susan’s French and Maltese heritage, Susan’s mother stepped in eager to help. It was at this point that Alan insisted that he get tested to see if he could be a possible match too. Remarkably Margaret was not a match, however the couple were amazed when Alan turned out to be a 50 percent match!
“When a man and woman marry, they are no longer two, they are one flesh” – The Book of Matthew 19:6
A twist of fate so beautiful and rare – Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital who undertook the operation told the couple that out of the estimated 120 kidney transplants they perform each year, there have only been 15 husband and wife matches since 1996.
Because Alan was going to be a live donor, it didn’t matter that the kidney wasn’t a 100 percent match – the couple’s faith and prayers gave them confidence that the transplant would be a complete success.
Born-again Christians Alan and Susan underwent surgery on June 27th 2001, with the power of prayer and faith in God. The couple recovered in adjoining wards, with Alan deemed fit enough to be discharged just four days later. Susan would be on anti-rejection drugs and steroids for the rest of her life, but with a knowingly smile she knew that the kidney transplant was going to be a success, having felt it “burst to life” almost immediately.
Fast forward 14 years and Susan is still in good health. The kidney transplant was a fantastic success, giving Susan the chance of a normal life and bringing the couple even closer. Remaining by each other’s side during highs and lows, the couple were now free to pursue their love of travel and the adventures that would come their way – resulting in their beloved Reedart Italian Painting Holidays.
Follow their story here.