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Kidney for Christmas

Courtesy Photo

(Courtesy Photo)

Courtesy Photo

(Courtesy Photo)

Courtesy Photo

(Courtesy Photo)


People joining the Air Force get more than a military career; they get a family that will take care of them like one of their own. When the husbands of Kim Hoyt and CrysDawna Cusson met at the Military Entrance Processing Station 15 years ago, they could never have imagined the impact they would have on each other’s lives.

In 2016, the Cusson family moved to F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, where the Hoyt family was stationed. The husbands reconnected on base, and the families became fast friends.

It didn’t take long for the Cussons to realize that Kim Hoyt’s health was declining.

“I went to Kim and asked her, ‘what’s going on?’” said CrysDawna. “That’s when I found out she was in stage five kidney failure, and if she didn’t get a kidney soon she would die.”

Kim spent two years on the kidney donation list and never made it to the top.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, more than 100,000 people in the U.S. are on the waiting list for a kidney donation. For many, time runs out. On average, 13 people die each day while waiting for a kidney transplant, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Kim was close to becoming a part of that fatal statistic.

“When I found out that she needed a kidney or she wouldn’t make it, I told her ‘you can have mine’,” said CrysDawna. “It didn’t really seem like that big of a deal to me. It was just the right thing to do, so I offered.”

A variety of tests confirmed the women had perfectly matched kidneys.

“At first, when CrysDawna said she would give me her kidney, I thought she was just saying it to be nice,” said Kim. “Then she acted on her own and applied to be a donor, and we later found out she was a match.”

Receiving approval to be a donor isn’t easy.

“The process is really long and has multiple steps because you’re taking a perfectly healthy person and putting them through an invasive surgery that has no benefit to them,” said CrysDawna. “So the doctors want to ensure the donor is healthy enough to go through with the surgery.”

After the long approval process, the doctors decided CrysDawna was a good fit, and they set a date in late December for the surgery to take place.

“After the operation, things went well,” said CrysDawna. “I was up and walking the same night and so was Kim. It was incredible to see how much her health improved right after the surgery.”

A little over a month later, Kim and CrysDawna are both well on the road to recovery. CrysDawna has since gotten back into long distance running, and Kim has been cleared to return to work.

When the Hoyts and Cussons came to F.E. Warren, they didn’t realize their families would expand in such a meaningful way. 

“When we raise our right hand and swear to support and defend the Constitution, we are joining something bigger than ourselves,” said Maj. Luke Stover, 90th Munitions Squadron commander. “One part of that ‘something bigger’ is the family aspect within the Air Force, and that family extends to the spouses and children of those in uniform. This is just one example of how we take care of our own in this Air Force.”