Groomer to Groomer

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The Gift

Grooming Matters

By Daryl Conner

Felicia Moran Gave Her Husband the Greatest Gift She Could Give

One of the things that delights me about being in the pet grooming industry is how kind, generous, and compassionate most of the groomers I meet are. It seems that people who love animals enough to make a career out of working with them are disproportionately good-hearted to the rest of the population.

I know groomers who raise funds to help other groomers, many who are involved in animal rescue, some who open their hearts and homes as foster parents, and others who adopt children with special needs. And then there is Felicia Moran, who literally gave of her very self.

Felicia has been a pet groomer since 2003. An active dog hobbyist, she also owns and operates a mobile grooming service. Eleven years ago, she married her best friend, Ed. When Ed was in his mid-twenties, he was diagnosed with kidney disease, which his doctors associated with high blood pressure. Four years into their marriage, Ed lost most of his kidney function. His medical team inserted a catheter into his chest wall, and four times a day, Ed had peritoneal dialysis.

At this time, he was put on a transplant list to wait for a cadaver kidney. Felicia and Ed were told that the average wait time for a transplant was seven years. Although the peritoneal dialysis kept him alive, his heath was declining. He developed diabetes, his arms and legs became swollen, his immune system weakened, and he suffered from frequent infections.

Felicia said, “After three years of watching Ed on dialysis and seeing his health decline, I decided I wanted to see if I could be a kidney donor. I knew that in order to donate, I would have to be in great physical health, including not being overweight. I had 90 pounds to lose, so in January of 2010, I joined Weight Watchers. By the end of the year, I had lost those pounds! I went in to get tested to see if Ed and I had the same blood type.” That would be the first test on this giving journey.

“Ed and I were talking to one of the surgeons when a nurse came in with the paper showing us we were a match!” After that, there were a great many more tests for Felicia to undergo. “They did antigen tests to see how likely it would be that Ed’s body would accept my kidney, and the news was good.” From there, Felicia was examined from head to toe. She had 18 vials of blood drawn to be tested for every imaginable thing. “I was screened to check cholesterol, diabetes, immune diseases, cancer, and more. I had to meet with a psychologist to make sure I understood what donating would mean and that I would be able to handle the emotional consequences that would follow. We had to talk to financial advisors to make sure we’d have the support needed following the transplant. Then our case was brought before a board. Finally I was approved to be a donor!”

After some delays, a date was finally set for the big day. On August 4, Felicia donated one of her kidneys to her husband and saved his life. “Our friend and fellow groomer, Holly Bosse, drove us to the hospital.” (Interestingly enough, Holly was the recipient of a kidney from her husband several years ago.) It took four hours of surgery for Felicia and six for Ed before the gift was given and received. “After surgery I woke up with my family around me. The next morning, I woke up to see Ed standing over my bed! He looked wonderful; the change in him was already remarkable.”

Felicia was in the hospital for two days; Ed stayed another five. Their recovery time was six and eight weeks, respectively. “Neither of us have been sick a single day since the surgery!” Felicia said. Both Ed and Felicia were able to return to work and resume the activities they loved: dog training for her and playing in a band for him.

“We received support from so many people. Both of our families, of course, were wonderful. And groomers from all over the country raised money to help us, since I would have no income while recuperating. They sent well wishes and cards. Grooming customers made us homemade meals, and one even mowed our lawn for us during our recovery period.” She found great online support on Facebook with a group called Donor Darlings and Devils.

Felicia lost 90 pounds and a kidney, but she gave the most spectacular gift possible. I sometimes see Felicia and Ed at grooming shows, and it has been a joy to see Ed regain his health. I asked Felicia if she had any doubts about donating her kidney. She laughed, “No! Ed is such a good man. Donating that kidney was a gift to myself so I can be with him!” ✂