Macon Woman’s Faith and Husband Gave Her A New Kidney and New Life
By Clarence Thomas, Jr.; CEO/Communications Director, Visionary Communications
If love had faces, it would look like husband and wife Gibran and Candice Stephens. That’s because love for each other gave her a new life and him a chance to prove his two years ago upon learning that his spouse had chosen the best way of treating her kidney disease.
Candice was diabetic since she was seven. But in 2016 she began to have declining kidney function. She admits that while in college, a combination of poor diet, not taking her medication and immaturity caused her to disregard her physician’s orders. This combination eventually led to kidney failure, and the 35-year-old Maconite having to solicit her family members and even friends for a kidney.
Unfortunately, Candice struck out repeatedly. She found many that were willing, but not able because of personal or health related reasons. By now her kidney function was at only 15 percent. Enter Gibran. Without flinching, he voluntarily agreed to giving his wife one of his kidneys. She initially resisted because she didn’t want to compromise both sides of the family and especially their only child at the time, a 12-year-old daughter of Gibran’s from a previous relationship. But he insisted, and she eventually agreed to the transplant, much to her satisfaction now. “I was excited and amazed that he would do that for me,” she admits. “It was amazing to know that he was placed in my life to do that for me.” He says doing it was not an option. “I just had a feeling in me. A calmness that just felt like I was a match,” he said.
Since then, Candice’s health and lifestyle have done a 180 degree turn. She’s down 15 pounds, is less fatigued, in less pain and eating healthier. Gibran has come along for the ride and lost more weight than his wife. As expected, they have become closer than ever since the transplant says Candice. The icing on the cake was Candice getting a recent pancreas transplant. A healthy pancreas uses the food we eat and produces fuel for the body’s cells. Candice desired to no longer be a diabetic and pursued the only option to rid herself of diabetes entirely. Once again, her faith paid off, doctors found a match, and she’s no longer diabetic following her pancreas transplant.
Nephrologist Dr. Reuben K. Ellis, owner of Physician Consultants of Georgia and Georgia Kidney Institute, has been Candice’s personal doctor for the last few years. He says she is fortunate on two fronts. One to have found a match for a kidney transplant. And secondly, to have a spouse to voluntarily donate a kidney. Oftentimes a donor’s health can become comprised as well following transplants, so the screening process is rigorous to ensure the best outcome according to Ellis. “I was happy for her that she found someone that would keep her from going on dialysis since a transplant is the best option for treating kidney disease. Fortunately, that’s how it worked out for her,” he said. “My wife needed help and I was committed to helping her,” added Gibran.
Candice was shy initially about sharing her story. But Gibran convinced her over time that she should be screaming it from the mountaintop. She slowly but surely started speaking publicly about it and is now not only a spokesperson about the benefits of making good lifestyle choices, but active in the community regarding the fight against kidney disease. “This really brought me and my husband closer. I now make it my life’s work to help people know how important it is to take care of yourself,” she says. “I can’t put into words how I feel. This is nothing but God. I give this all to him.”