Another Wonderful Example of a Loyal Wife-Peggy Polinsky

In my post Two Heroic Wives Remained Loyal to Their Husbands as They Served Three Decades in Prison for a Crime They Didn’t Commit, I commended the heroism of two women who remained loyal to their husbands for three decades as the men were incarcerated for crimes the FBI knew they didn’t commit. Both women raised their children, and kept up theirs and their children’s relationships with their husbands as best they could.

Here’s another wonderful example of a loyal wife–Peggy Polinsky:

Wife’s kidney donation saves husband’s life
By Emanuel Parker
Pasadena Star-News, (10/7/07)

PASADENA – For two years, Joel Polinsky’s stomach was so big, children would ask if he was pregnant.

“Yes,” he’d tell them. “I’m going to have triplets.”

But far from being funny, the Pasadena resident’s condition was deadly. What saved his life was a kidney donation in June from his wife, Peggy, 63.

“You only need one kidney, but you have two,” she said. “If you know someone who has none, give them one.”

Polinsky, 65, had Polycystic Kidney Disease, PKD, a hereditary ailment that also afflicts his two children, his brother, a niece and nephew and an uncle.

PKD destroyed Polinsky’s kidneys. When they were removed in January, the organs that normally weigh a combined one pound weighed 16 pounds.

“I was diagnosed with the disease when I was 40,” he said. “Cysts in the kidneys choke off their function. They stop filtering blood, so you have toxins in your blood. You feel exhausted, sluggish. It can effect your cognitive ability. Your blood pressure goes up and you may have hypertension.”

While not as well known as cancer, heart disease or diabetes, PKD affects 600,000 Americans and 12.5 million people worldwide, more than cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, sickle cell anemia and Down syndrome combined.

But while sickle cell anemia receives around $2,800 in funding per patient per year, PKD only receives $53.

At one point actor Paul Newman was the PKD spokesman, Polinsky said, and the disease received much-needed publicity. Since Newman left as spokesman, PKD has drifted back into obscurity, he said.

The Los Angeles Walk for PKD has been held in Pasadena in September at the Rose Bowl for three years. Last month’s walk raised $70,000.

“But that’s not much for a city the size of Los Angeles,” Polinsky said. “We should be able to raise more than $100,000.”

PKD also affects the heart. Ten years ago Polinsky had open heart surgery to replace heart valves.

His kidneys were so big they pressed against his diaphragm and lungs, making it hard for him to breath. They also pressed against his stomach.

“I was eating like a fly,” he said.

After he awoke from the four-hour transplant surgery at UCLA Medical Center, Polinsky first asked about his wife. Then he asked about the kidney.

“They showed me a plastic bag filled with urine, a sure sign the kidney was functioning,” he said. “I’m incredibly grateful. It’s like a miracle.”

But he’s not out of the woods yet. His body can reject the kidney at any time and he checks his blood pressure and temperature twice daily for signs of infection, said Polinsky, a therapist who works in Beverly Hills.

His wife works for Parents Anonymous, child welfare advocates in Clarement. She turned out to be an unusually healthy woman. But Polinsky said he was fortunate in that several people offered to be donors.

“I didn’t hesitate to donate,” Peggy Polinsky said. “It was a great privilege, but it was not a big deal. I went through a year of testing, what they call the million-dollar work-up, where they give you every test in the world.”

Both are active in the PKD Foundation.

“I don’t want to see my kids and the millions of people with this disease go through that,” said Polinsky.

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