‘Thank you is not enough’: Sister donates kidney to save brother’s life

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Brean Sprague says she and her older brother, Trevor, have always been close.

"We did everything together, you know? We had our neighborhood kids.  We played together; we took dancing and singing lessons together," said Sprague.

Then, nearly 20 years ago, Trevor, now 42, got a devastating diagnosis.

"I think it was 2000, 2001 I was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy; that's a slow deterioration of the kidneys where basically the filters in your kidneys get clogged up with proteins and other things and the kidneys don't function anymore," said Trevor.

Brean, 41, was among the first to want to try to help.

"I knew that one day when he needed a kidney, because he knew one day he would need it, that I would be there for him to give him mine," she said.

But when Brean was first tested she was told she might have the same disease as her brother and was rejected as a donor.

Understanding that the only way to properly diagnose the disease is with a kidney biopsy, Brean said she never gave up trying.

"So last September I went and I got my kidney biopsy and to my surprise I did not have the disease so of course my first call was to the Cleveland Clinic to say my kidneys are good; can I try again?" she said.

"She was the perfect match and no one else besides her has even come close to matching since that time, so three-and-a-half years," said Trevor.

"When the possibility that life isn't there anymore or might not be there anymore you look at the whole world different and your life every day different, and you just look at the people you love different," he added.

After nearly two decades with the disease and three years on dialysis the transplant is scheduled for Wednesday at the Cleveland Clinic.

Brean says she couldn't be more excited.

"I can't wait to see him feeling better. That's all I could think about is in a couple of days when I finally get to see him again after surgery that he will be maybe feeling a little bit better," she said.

And, Brean says the timing couldn't be more important.

"Three years is a long time to be on dialysis and for the kidney donor list, I believe he was three-to-five years on a wait, and for him to actually get a donor-- a deceased donor-- probably wouldn't happen for another couple of years," said Brean.

"I firmly believe everything happens for a reason and it happens when it is supposed to, so maybe I had a little more to learn. Maybe I had more life to appreciate. Maybe I had to get to a point where I had more respect for the process. I'm not sure what God was trying to tell me but I completely respect the entire process and if I needed three-and-a-half years to wait then there's a plan for that; there's a a reason that I had to wait this long," said Trevor.

"Thank you is not enough," he added of his sister's willingness to donate one of her kidneys.

"What do you say to the person who is giving you the chance to live? There's just not any words especially when its my sister."