Real Life

REAL LIFE: I found the love of my life while on the brink of death

Michelle Commons, 37, found love in one of the most unexpected places!

By As told to Take 5

Michelle Commons, 37 shares her heartwarming story of love and recovery;

The room swam out of focus as tears filled my eyes.
"Sorry, can you please repeat that?" I choked.
"You're in the end stages of kidney failure. You need a transplant," the doctor said patiently.
I'd been diagnosed with diabetes as a three year old and endured insulin injections and blood-sugar monitoring my whole life.
At 30 I'd suffered a heart attack, a complication of diabetes.
I'd been put on medication and was monitored regularly but I'd had two more heart attacks over the next four years.
The medication I needed after a quadruple bypass had damaged my kidneys and pancreas.
Now, dialysis and a double organ transplant were my only hopes of survival.
Over the next year, while my mates were finding love, starting families or having fun, I spent my evenings being hooked up to a dialysis machine at home.
But even that was fraught with problems; I kept getting infections.
"It would be better if you had your dialysis in hospital," my doctor advised eventually.
So, with much reluctance, I trudged down the corridor to my first appointment.
There, a handsome bearded bloke caught my eye.
He was leaving and smiled at me as I held the door open for him.
With rippling muscles and tattoos snaking up his arms and neck, he was drop dead gorgeous.
He's a bit of alright, I thought fleetingly.
But dating was the furthest thing from my mind, I had to focus on my dialysis.
Over the coming months, though, I saw that handsome stranger all the time.
He was always leaving as I arrived.
It took a few weeks before I realised that he wasn't visiting someone.
He was on dialysis too.
All the other people in the waiting room were elderly.
Knowing that someone else my age was in the same boat as me made me feel more normal.
Over time, our nods to each other became verbal hellos.
Then one day, we were in the same dialysis session.
"You waiting for a transplant too?" he asked.
I almost laughed. Not your typical pick-up line!
"Yeah, tough isn't it?" I replied.
"Tell me about it. I'm Steve by the way," he said.
"Michelle," I smiled back.
As we chatted, we realised we had loads in common.
Like me, Steve had Type 1 diabetes and was in need of a kidney and pancreas transplant.
It was such a relief to talk to someone who understood.
My family and friends had been amazing, but Steve was living through my situation, too.
As our session ended, he told me he was thinking of setting up a WhatsApp group chat, so younger patients could get to know one another more.
"Great idea," I grinned, giving him my phone number.
Later, as my dialysis session began, my phone bleeped.
Hey, it's Steve…
The smooth operator never did set up that WhatsApp group, it'd all been a ploy to get my number!
Still, I was flattered.
We messaged for the entire three hours of my treatment – about our lives, our illness.
The next day, I felt my cheeks blush when he asked if he could sit with me during my dialysis, even though his had finished.
"Of course," I said.
The nurses all thought it was adorable.
They left the room giving me thumbs up and giggling.
From then on, we'd chat non-stop at hospital and messaged constantly while we were apart.
This went on for a couple of months until one day he asked me out.
"I think it's time we met away from injections and hospital vending machines. I'd like to take you to my favourite Italian restaurant," he asked shyly.
Days later, I slipped into my slinkiest black dress and met Steve outside the restaurant.
"You look amazing," he said.
"No hospital gown for once," I joked.
The candlelit table and romantic music were worlds away from the dialysis ward.
"I asked the nurses if you were single when I first saw you," Steve admitted and my heart soared.
"Well, I fancied you at first sight too," I giggled.
After the meal, we shared our first kiss in the rain.
Several months later, we were pulling up outside a restaurant when my phone rang.
"Oh my god, it's the hospital," I told him.
Neither of us said it aloud, but we both knew what that could mean.
Tears welled as I listened to the life-changing news coming down the receiver.
"They've found me a match," I breathed.
We soon arrived at the hospital where my double transplant would take place.
From there, everything's a blur.
But my one constant was Steve.
He was there right up until the last moment, stealing one final kiss as I was wheeled to theatre.
Thankfully the nine-hour operation was a success.
Back home six days later, I felt so lucky.
"You'll get your chance soon," I told Steve.
And to our huge surprise, just a few days later, he received a phone call.
"They've found you a donor too?" I whooped as he hung up.
He just nodded and cried.
Unfortunately, as I was still recovering, I couldn't go with him.
But Steve understood.
"I know you would if you could," he smiled.
Steve and I hit it off straight away - we had so much in common
A week later, he went for his op.
Worryingly, he suffered breathing complications and was hooked to a ventilator.
The next day, I could go in and see him.
He looked so vulnerable lying there and it made me realise how much I loved him.
"I can't bear the thought of losing him," I wept.
Thankfully, he slowly improved and was allowed home after eight days.
Since then, we've both gone from strength to strength.
We no longer need dialysis or even insulin injections.
We're so grateful to our donors and their families.
And our doctors have never done transplants on a couple before!
Now, Steve and I are both looking ahead to the future.
When we were both ill we never thought we'd find romance.
We met waiting for new kidneys – and ended up stealing one another's hearts.

read more from