Wait Is Almost Over for Kidney Transplant From Wife to Husband : Medicine: Mission Viejo couple's once-threatened operation is scheduled for next Wednesday in San Diego.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The tale of a kidney transplant involving two Mission Viejo newlyweds, which captured national attention, took another turn Wednesday as the couple learned that the operation jeopardized three weeks ago by a medical mishap can go forward after all.

Barring unforeseen complications, Victoria Ingram-Curlee, 45, will donate one of her kidneys to her new husband, Randall Curlee, 46, next Wednesday at Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego, the couple and the surgeon said.

"There's no reason to wait any longer," an ebullient Ingram-Curlee said, two hours after getting the go-ahead from Sharp's renal transplantation director Robert Mendez. "Everything looks fine."

Ingram-Curlee said the news came "almost in the nick of time" for her husband, a diabetic who became so ill over the weekend with insulin shock that paramedics had to be summoned to their home.

On Saturday, he had become lethargic and almost incoherent, Ingram-Curlee said, but was revived after she gave him three large glasses of concentrated orange juice. He did not need to be hospitalized. Randall Curlee's health was deteriorating to the point that he risked being placed on kidney dialysis soon.

"We had an appointment next Wednesday with the renal doctor to examine him," she said. "Obviously we're not going to get to that."

Curlee said the couple had been told the transplant had an only 50-50 chance of proceeding after a radiologist nicked an artery in Ingram-Curlee's left kidney during a routine medical test Oct. 12, one day after they were married. The nick caused the blood flow through the artery to the lower area of the kidney to become partially blocked.

Mendez said Wednesday that medical tests in the past two weeks, including another Tuesday, showed both kidneys functioning normally. The surgeon said the blood supply in one of the three arteries in Ingram-Curlee's left kidney is "slightly diminished," but that may be corrected during next week's surgery.

The surgeon said it has not been decided which kidney Ingram-Curlee will donate, but that it most likely will be the left one. The transplant team initially leaned toward taking the right kidney, but now don't want to take a chance of leaving Ingram-Curlee with a kidney that might become compromised.

"You always want to do what's best for donors," he said.

That's just fine with Randall Curlee, who said that during the past three weeks his main concern has been for the health of his wife.

"If she had been in any danger, I never would have let it proceed," he said.

Receiving the left kidney, even if the obstruction cannot be repaired, would in any case mean a major improvement in his own health, he said.

He said he felt so grateful to his wife that he was at a loss for words. Against enormous odds, she turned out to be a near-perfect organ donor for him.

"What do you say to someone who's saving your life?" he said. "If you don't say they're the most wonderful person in the world, you're a chump--and if you do, they think you're just saying it. She knows how I feel about her."

For Ingram-Curlee, the good news came after a day of apprehension. On Tuesday, she underwent the same test that three weeks ago imperiled the transplant. The same radiologist, Dr. Harold Coons, a respected physician who colleagues and the Curlees say was not to blame for the extremely rare complication, performed the second test.

But everything went smoothly and, after returning home from a night in the hospital, she got the news she dreamed of and finally felt free to celebrate.

"I'm very happy," she said. "I'm actually putting together some Christmas stuff, garlands on the banisters . . . dressing up the house a little bit." She hoped to surprise her husband when he came home from work.

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