South Florida man donates kidney to save wife's life

Operation was first for new Memorial Transplant Institute

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – After years of dialysis and uncertainty, a South Florida couple got the chance for a new life together with the start of a promising new transplant program. 

Monica and Cesar Calle are celebrating 23 years of marriage this week -- an anniversary filled with love, laughter and the gift of life. 

It's been three weeks since Cesar Calle donated a kidney to the women he loves. 

"Little did we know that 23 years ago, this was going to be the angel to save my life, because that's what he did. He's my perfect match," Monica Calle said.  

Last month, Monica Calle underwent a five-hour procedure at the Memorial Transplant Institute at Memorial Regional Hospital.

The center is one-of-a-kind in Broward County, and one of two programs in South Florida that offers kidney and heart transplants to kids and adults. 

"My prayers were answered, because this is something that I wanted to do since she started dialysis," Cesar Calle said.  

"Obviously, if it wasn't for my husband, who generously donated a kidney, I wouldn't be here today. I wouldn't have a second chance at life, and I couldn't be more thankful to him," Monica Calle said. 

Monica Calle's journey is a familiar one. 

Her mother also received a kidney transplant years ago, and she once joked with her husband that she might need one someday, as well. 

"I have polycystic kidney disease, which I inherited from my mother. My mother was a transplant recipient seven (or) eight years ago, and about 10 years ago, I was diagnosed after my third child," Monica Calle said.  

Luckily for Monica Calle, she not only had a match, but she knew about the promising institute, since she has worked at Memorial Regional for seven years. 

"He'll remind me, 'You have a piece of me' inside of me," Monica Calle said.  

In the weeks after Monica Calle's procedure, the institute has done a second successful transplant. 

The patient in that case is also doing very well. 

The Calles celebrate their anniversary on Thursday.