LOVE KNOWS NO LIMITS: Husband’s journey to save wife with rare kidney disease

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — He was a FOX13 weatherman. She was an elementary school teacher.

“I happened to come to her school one day,” said Chip Washington, “It was Hanley Elementary School.”

They passed each other in the hall, said hello, and for Chip Washington, it was love at first sight.

“I don’t know there was something from that ‘hi’ that inspired me to ask the principal to ask her to come outside when we were doing our live hit,” said Chip.

But for Wanda Washington, Chip’s wife, not so much.

“He held his hand out, and I shook his hand, and I just looked at him, and I said ‘No, this is not it,’” said Wanda.

Still, Chip’s love won out, and five years after that first meeting in school, Chip and Wanda were married.

A life that started in joy for two years. Then, news neither of them expected.

Wanda became sick.

“Next thing I knew, I had been diagnosed with kidney disease,” said Wanda.

“I was scared that I was going to lose her,” said Chip.

Wanda was diagnosed with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, an extremely rare kidney disease.

And that’s when their love story turned into a long fight for life and a search for a kidney donor.

Doctors told Chip he wasn’t compatible because of his health, so Chip fought. He lost 30 pounds, decided to eat better, and became a candidate for donation through a program called Kidney Paired Donation.

“It’s fulfilled everything I’ve ever wanted to be in terms of a man,” said Chip.

It took nearly 20 years to get to this point.

“This has been a long time coming,” said Chip, “18 years.”

On November 23, Chip was able to donate his kidney to another patient. His wife could then receive a compatible match through the program at Methodist University Hospital.

“We’re just thankful to be here right now,” said Wanda.

Wanda received strength reciting Psalms 23.

“My faith. My faith,” said Wanda, “It never wavered.”

She would no longer ‘want’ on that 23rd day of December.

“I was destined to meet her for this moment in time,” said Chip.

With her new kidney and both on a path of healing, they can get back to the life that started at Hanley Elementary School.

To learn more about becoming a living kidney donor, click here.

Julian Paras can be reached at julian.paras@fox13memphis.com, and you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook.