It’s more than just chemistry that makes Errin and Chris Willenborg a perfect match. The Saskatoon couple was married in August, but it’s their remarkable journey to the alter that makes them so special.
“When we started dating I really didn’t want to tell him about my kidney disease and the dialysis I was on. But when I told him about it he thought about it for a while and said, ‘uh kidney function wasn’t high on his list of priorities for a girlfriend,’” Errin said.
“I just thought ‘I can’t do nothing, there’s a chance that I could be a match, even though it’s extremely low’ so I decided to get tested,” Chris explained.
He got tested in secret and miraculously the tests came back a match.
“Depending on the closeness of the match, anywhere from a one in 10,000 chance to a perfect match, which is a one in 100,000 chance. We’re near perfect,” Chris said.
Chris decided he didn’t need to keep the secret anymore because he could officially be Errin’s donor.
“Being a scientist I said ‘man, I’ve actually got data confirming this is the person I should marry.’ So about a week after the test results I went out and bought the engagement ring because I knew then and there, hey we’re a match,” Chris explained.
The kidney surgery happened on Feb. 4, just days before Valentine’s Day. Chris’ incredible, life-saving gift didn’t go unnoticed. It went viral online and prompted Cosmopolitan Magazine to designate him as the “Most Romantic Man.”
Almost nine months after the surgery, Chris and Errin are spreading the message about the importance of organ donation.
“We need to advocate. As a living donor and probably the most unlikely person to do it, I’m really passionate about getting people to sign up because I think if I can do it then anyone can do it,” Chris said.
According to the Kidney Foundation of Canada, around 3,500 people in the country are waiting for a kidney and around 80 will die waiting annually.
The couple is hoping their story will prompt a conversation and inspire more Canadian’s to act.