When a married couple have fallen out of love, it can be one of the worst things that can happen in a person’s life. All the time, effort, and emotion invested in another person, all the deepest thoughts and emotions shared, the future you imagined together, all gone.
And those 2 people who once meant the world to each other now make the most bitter of enemies. With the pain they carry in their hearts and the intimate knowledge they have from their time together, they know just where to hit to make it hurt the most. But during one divorce, one man would do something that was extreme by just about anyone’s standards…
Love in the Hospital
Richard and Dawnell first met through their work at North Shore Hospital on Long Island, New York, where Richard was doing his residency and Dawnell was training as a nurse. They hit it off and started spending time together outside of work. There was a real spark between them.
Made For Each Other
Their relationship was truly special and by 1990, Richard and Dawnell were dancing together at their lavish Long Island reception. Shortly after, they’d moved into a $1 million home in Massapequa, NY…
Things Going Well
Over the next few years, their marriage went reasonably well. Both of their careers were progressing, and they had 2 daughters. Dawnell was pregnant with their 3rd child, this time a boy, when trouble reared its head.
As Richard and Dawnell were getting her checked up in the early stages of the pregnancy, they found out something terrible. Dawnell’s latest pregnancy put her at risk of dying of kidney failure…
Not The First Time
Dawnell had actually had kidney troubles earlier in life. When she was 13 years old, she had required a kidney transplant to live. She’d gotten it from her father then and later in life, when she needed another transplant, her sister stepped up to the plate to donate.
Now, Dawnell had 2 options if she wanted to live. She could find another kidney donor or, to reduce the strain on her body, she could terminate her pregnancy. But Dawnell was a devout Catholic, even teaching catechism on Sundays. There was no way she was going to have an abortion…
I’ll Give If I Can
After some discussion, the couple decided that Ricard would be checked to see if he was a compatible donor. Against all odds — a 1-in-700,000 chance — Richard was a donor match for Dawnell. On June 28, 2001, Richard’s kidney was successfully transplanted to Dawnell and their son, though born prematurely, grew up healthy.
It was such a beautiful and generous act, you could put an “and they lived happily ever after” after that and you’d have yourself a nice, neat little fairytale. Unfortunately, real life is rarely so neat. In truth, their marriage was threatened by more than just Dawnell’s medical problems…
According to Richard, there were problems in their marriage that had begun years before Dawnell’s 3rd pregnancy. The 2 would argue and seemed to be drifting apart. Richard said he’d hoped that donating his kidney would give new life to their marriage, but “nothing changed,” he said.
New Lease On Life
Instead, Dawnell viewed her new kidney as a new lease on life. She went back to school to get her master’s in nursing and took up karate as well. But in the course of kicking butt, Dawnell was injured when she was trying to earn her black belt. Her injury was manageable but required her to have physical therapy…`
Hole In My Heart
Richard said that his wife’s relationship with her physical therapist began professionally, but developed into an affair. “It put a hole in my heart that still exists,” Richard said. Shortly after their affair began, Dawnell served Richard with divorce papers.
Richard said that Dawnell kept him from seeing his 3 children as their nasty divorce played out. In a “last resort” to lash out at her, Richard sued his wife, saying he wants a $1.5 million credit as they divvied up the assets — or return the kidney he’d given her…
Richard’s lawyer argued that the kidney was a marital asset that should be calculated when they financially divided the life they’d built together and that this was the desperate effort of a man who simply wanted to see his children. But so far, you’ve only heard the story from Richard’s perspective.
Dawnell saw things in a completely different light. For her, the turning point in their marriage happened in 2005 when she was recovering from a double mastectomy surgery. One day, she got a phone call from a friend saying “I’m in a restaurant. Richard is here. He’s with a young woman.”…
Dawnell’s friends went to work like a team of special agents. One friend came to her home to watch their kids, another drove her to the restaurant, while the friend at the restaurant stayed to keep an eye on Richard and give updates.
On the Move
By the time Dawnell arrived, Richard and his dinner companion had left — with one friend tailing his car. She followed him, all the while giving Dawnell directions. Eventually she arrived at a home that had Richard’s truck in the driveway…
Even though it was nearly midnight and the lights were out, Dawnell rang the doorbell. A woman answered the door — with Richard behind her. When Dawnell asked the woman if she knew Richard was married, she said he’d told her he was divorced. He was going to be. A week later, Dawnell filed the papers.
Not For Sale
As for Richard’s lawsuit, it didn’t have a chance in hell of standing up in court. “At its core, the defendant’s claim inappropriately equates human organs with commodities,” said Suffolk County Special Referee Jeffrey Grob in his ruling…
“While the term ‘marital property’ is elastic and expansive… it’s reach, in this court’s view, does not stretch into the ethers and embrace… human tissues or organs,” Grob wrote. In short, you can’t sell organs. Richard’s case was dismissed.
Like any marriage that falls apart, there was likely blame on both sides. However, the idea that one should have to pay for an organ in their body — an organ given to save your spouse’s life — is completely absurd.