BALTIMORE (WJZ)–It’s a Valentine’s love story about a present money can’t buy. 

Suzanne Collins reports on a wife who gave her husband a gift of life.

This couple found love late in life and oh, was it special.  She knew he was sick, his kidneys failing, but she married him anyway.

The courting began about three years ago with a touch.

“One day we went with friends on a winery tour and he put his hand on my back, and that was it,” said Melinda Burton. “Electricty.”

But shortly after the wedding, Jim Burton’s situation became critical. He needed a transplant to live. 

She made a life-changing decision based on deep love and compassion– to give him her kidney if they were a match.

“I was more scared for her than I was for me,” said Jim Burton. “Absolutely, I knew how she felt, that she had had some nervous moments.”

When the tests were a go, the couple went to University of Maryland Medical Center for surgery in September.

“I had faith it was going to be wonderful,” said Melinda Burton. “That we would come through it with flying colors. I just had that feeling.”

There is a risk for a kidney donor, but you also have to remember that donor is giving someone the gift of life. The director of kidney transplants at the hospital says one in 3,000 donors do die.

“We call them heroes and it may sound trite but there isn’t really any greater definition of a donor that puts themselves in harm’s way to make a better life for somebody else,” said Dr. Matthew Cooper, University of Maryland Medical Center.

And on this most special day when we think about love and sweethearts . . .

“For every breath I take now I think I owe to her,” said Jim Burton.

“I did it because I love him,” said Melinda Burton. “I wanted to see him live a full and happy life.”

For Valentine’s Day, the couple is planning a big steak dinner, something Jim loves but wasn’t able to eat in the past.

  1. AT says:

    Such a great story. Baltimore news with a positive story, finally.

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