A perfect match in love and in life. It sounds like a piece from a movie, but it’s the story of Saskatoon’s Chris Willenborg and his fiancée Errin Tollefson.
The pair met about five years ago as friends, but over the years grew closer.
“We had by far the best two-hour conversation that I have ever had,” said Willenborg.
As they started dating Tollefson revealed she was on dialysis and on the waitlist for a kidney. Initially her dad was going to be the donor, but his cancer had metastasised to his kidneys and he passed away.
Willenborg started thinking about what he could do for his then girlfriend. Then in 2014, Tollefson became very ill and needed to be hospitalized because of an infection.
“When you see that fear in your loved ones eyes, you are compelled to act,” Willenborg said.
The next week he went down to find out how he could help and got tested to see if Tollefson could use his kidney.
“I just really wanted to help this person who I loved,” he said.
The donation process takes a couple of months, but eventually Willenborg met with a doctor who said he was “near-perfect” match and could be the donor.
“I can help give her back what life has taken away and give her the life that she gave me,” he said.
The following week Willenborg went out and bought the engagement ring and two weeks after that he proposed.
Fast forward to last week, Willenborg and his fiancée Tollefson went into surgery.
The night of Feb. 3, he posted this to Facebook:
“Well I don’t post often but tomorrow promises to be an amazing day – it is finally surgery day. While surgery is never a fun experience, this is all for a good cause. If all goes well, tomorrow I will donate a kidney to my beautiful fiancée Errin Tollefson, my perfect match in love and in life. While we met only a few years ago, we share an amazing bond. What joy you brought into my life. You gave me life, and now it’s my turn to give it back. Life has given each of us our perfect match (yes, against all odds we are a perfect match!)…now here’s to our future! Better days ahead, my friend! Love you to the moon and back!”
Willenborg was out of hospital quickly and if Tollefson’s recovery continues as planned she will be out in time for Sunday.
“If I could just have her back for Valentine’s Day, to spend Valentine’s Day together, that would just be the best gift ever,” he said.
As soon as possible they will get back to wedding planning. Their wedding date is set for Aug. 6.
“We’re pretty lucky, a lot of couples aren’t that lucky,” Willenborg said.
To make the story even sweeter, Willenborg said he wants to use the recent media attention to raise awareness of organ donation. He urges people to sign their donor cards or consider getting tested to be a potential match.
“As perfect as our story is in some senses of the word, everybody has a perfect match in life and in death when it comes to organ donation it’s just finding that perfect match,” he said.
With files from Brent Bosker