Couple in need of kidney find out they’re a perfect match in more ways than one

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

CALUMET CITY, Ill. (WGN) – The well-known wedding vow “in sickness and in health” is a real-life promise for an Illinois couple who, after three years together, just learned something new that could save one of their lives – against incredible odds they are compatible for a kidney transplant.

Viola and Marques Johnson are already sharing their lives, and soon they’ll be sharing a lot more.

“I asked her for her phone number, and she gave me the phone number and was like, ‘call me tomorrow,’ so I was like, ‘why do I have to call you tomorrow? Haha. We can’t talk today?” Marques said.

Whether they’re playing games or attending them, they almost always wear matching shirts.

But the good times hit a bump when Marques went to the doctor for a routine checkup and left with a troubling diagnosis.

“They tell me that my kidneys are failing. This may not be a relationship that you want to get into with a sick person,” Marques said.

“I’m like, ‘no, we’re going to beat this. Don’t even worry about this. We got this,'” Viola said.

Soon Marques was bloated, exhausted, and resigned to the fact that he might not make it. He gained weight and retained fluid, and had to leave his job as a newspaper writer.

“All of a sudden, my health took a drastic change, to where I couldn’t even swallow air without throwing up,” Marques said. “It was almost feeling like I was drowning when I was talking.”

Viola is a registered nurse, and saw the situation getting worse.

“I knew that it was bad. Fluid could fill up in his lungs, he could be laying down and just stop breathing. He wasn’t moving any fluid,” Viola said.

Marques was on dialysis for nine hours a day. He didn’t want to ask relatives to donate a kidney.

“It’s not an easy thing for you to ask your brothers or family member to get tested to give you a kidney, it’s not like asking to borrow ten dollars. So, I just refused to ask anybody, and I was just like, ‘well, I’ll live the rest of my life on dialysis – it is what it is,'” Marques said.

Viola insisted she would get tested, even though doctors told them that of the more than 10,000 kidney transplants each year, fewer than one percent were between unrelated living people. Even fewer between actual spouses.

Viola’s test results came back as she was getting her nails done.

“She called and said, ‘You’re the match. You’re a perfect match!’ I just started screaming and all the nail techs looked around and were like, ‘what’s wrong?’ I was like ‘I’m the match! I’m the match!” Viola said.

“For my wife to be the match, that’s really rare,” Marques said.

Kidney failure was no match for this match.

“I tell him, we were destined to be. God knows, everybody has a purpose, and everybody may not realize, but my purpose was actually to save his life,” Viola said.

The surgery is set for this Thursday at the University of Illinois College Medical Center. They say once they get out of surgery, they will have plenty of help as both of them recover over the next few weeks.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



Ozone air quality unhealthy for some - Carrigan Chauvin

Heatwave impacts Southwest U.S. - Adam Krueger, John Shrable in San Francisco

7-day forecast, Tropics development - Adam Krueger

Highs today, future feels like Adam Krueger

ERCOT energy conservation, HISD new Superindendent - Sharron Melton

Forecast heat index - Adam Krueger


Playground summer safety tips - Carrigan Chauvin

Thermal burn threat on playground equipment - Carrigan Chauvin

Why "Jeopardy" needs to call Carrigan Chauvin - Adam and Hannah

Man swallowed by whale shares his story - Adam and Hannah react

Biden at G7, in Brussels for NATO Summit - Jessi Turnure in Washington D.C.

Heat advisories around the country - Adam Krueger

Forecast heat index, dog walk forecast

Weather update, COVID-19 and teens

Woman gets several Amazon packages that aren't hers - Adam and Hannah

Working in the Weather - Caring for a horse in the heat - Carrigan Chauvin

Working in the Weather - Keeping horses safe - Carrigan Chauvin

Monitoring Gulf Low - Adam Krueger

Upper 90's, will feel like triple digits - Adam Krueger




More Crime

Local Headlines

More Local


Don't Miss