SPRINGFIELD TWP. Jim and Carree McKnight have been a perfect match since they first met 28 years ago. That was even more evident when Carree found that she is a perfect match to donate a kidney to her husband of 21 years.
She did so with no hesitation.
Last June, Jim McKnight was diagnosed with stage five kidney failure and had to leave the job he loved so much with the Springfield Police Department, where he had worked for 12 years. Before coming to Springfield, he was with the Uniontown Police Department.
He said the diagnoses just turned his life upside down.
"Being a police officer for almost 20 years it just devastated me," he said.
His condition warranted dialysis and that made him tired, weak and unable to continue as a police officer.
This week, Carree donated a kidney to the love of her life. It turned out she was a perfect match in more ways than one.
"I am blessed that she is willing to put herself through an unnecessary surgery for me," said Jim.
Jim said two years ago a doctor told him that his kidney function was down to 30 percent and he was sent to a specialist. There was nothing other than trying to control his blood pressure that they could do.
"There is no medicine to make your kidneys better or anything. My problem was due to my chronic high blood pressure," he said.
The high blood pressure could not be controlled even on three medications. It stayed stable for about a year and in March of 2016 his function was at about 27 percent, then in June of 2016 he came home from work, his hands, legs and face were all swollen and he went to the emergency room. His kidney function was down to 12 percent.
"They said to me that in order to keep living I needed dialysis or I needed a transplant," said Jim.
At that point it became necessary for him to be on dialysis.
He said he is fortunate that he has no other health issues. Diabetes is the most common cause of kidney failure and high blood pressure is the second.
"It is important for people to be organ donors," Jim said. "There are so many people waiting on organs and especially kidneys. A lot of people don't make it because there are not enough donors around. It is important to become a donor and have it on your driver's license."
The McKnights live in Green and have two daughters, Morgan, 18 and Madison, 14. He said it is the support of the community that keeps him going.
"I can't say it has been easy the last year," Jim said. "Sometimes it is rough. The support makes you feel good and makes you have a positive attitude."
Jim was the Springfield school resource officer and he said the school and students have sent letters and cards to him. He said the police officers tell him that the teachers and students ask about him all the time.
"I get good support from the schools and the community," he said.
He contributes his positive attitude to the support and love shown by the community.
It will take a few months of Jim being careful while being on the anti-rejection drugs as it weakens his immune system. His hope is, to one day, be back on the force helping others.