Widow reflects on friend's selfless act on Valentine's Day - WNEM TV 5

Widow reflects on friend's selfless act on Valentine's Day

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)
FENTON, Mich. (AP) -

A heart touching tale of love was prolonged by a friend's selfless act.

On the anniversary of the first date with her husband Catherine Barnes looked back on the love that was and thanked the man that helped her husband cheat death for an extra seven years.

"Valentine's Day was my first date with my husband to be," Barnes said.

The year was 2001 when Catherine and Barry Barnes danced, fell in love and eventually married.

Then things changed. Diabetes and high blood pressure put her then 62-year-old husband on dialysis while he waited for a kidney donor.

"Then he kept on losing weight and down to 118 pounds and all we had left was prayer 'cause he needed a 63-year-old kidney 'cause he was older. They would not give you a younger one," Catherine Barnes said.

Donors would get matched and then rejected by doctors because they weren't healthy enough.

"Watch someone dying in front of your eyes and losing weight and life coming out of him like a vegetable," she said.

The couple turned to prayer and their prayers were answered in the form of their friend Jim Sjostrom.

Sjostrom said it broke his heart to hear about potential donors falling through.

"So I called Catherine up and I said let's get me checked out. I'm healthy," he said.

It turned out Sjostrom and Barry Barnes shared the same age blood type - O positive. At first local professionals ruled him out too, but they didn't give up. A friend suggested they go to the University Hospital in Ann Arbor. It was there they had success.

"The date for surgery was April 26," Sjostrom said.

That was almost 12 years ago. Sjostrom went back to running soon after and has since lived a healthy life with just one of his kidneys.

Barry Barnes regained his health and went on to live seven more happy years vacationing and dancing with his wife. He eventually died of pneumonia.

On Valentine's Day - the anniversary of their first date - Catherine Barnes thinks of others like her husband and hopes they too find donors.

"My husband had a 63-year-old kidney and that kidney got him through 63 years of our beautiful marriage," Burton said.

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