Nurse fell in love with dying patient – now he’s recovered and they’re moving in together.
Ethan Gabriel, 23, had given up hope of finding a donor organ to allow him to beat his life-threatening illness.
His carer Kirstie Hawthornewaite, 24, who worked on the dialysis unit, was all too aware her patient might not win his battle for life.
But despite the bleak outlook, the pair fell in love.
The couple, from Kettering, Northants, kept their love a secret for more than a year while Kirstie continued to care for him during his dialysis treatment.
But after going public and admitting she had fallen for her patient, Ethan finally learned a donor match had been found.
He went straight under the knife, and Kirstie helped to nurse him back to health.
And now their tale finally has a happy ending as they prepare to move in together.
Kirstie said: “Thanks to the kindness of that stranger who donated their kidney, Ethan is alive today and our love is stronger than ever.”
She added: “I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to know he is mine to keep now, thanks to the incredible gift.”
Ethan said: “It was scary to be told that you are dying at such a young age and that your only hope of life is a transplant.
“But Kirstie was there for me from day one and I couldn’t help falling for her. When I finally plucked up the courage to tell her, I was blown away when she admitted she felt the same.”
The pair first met in May 2013 when Ethan arrived for his initial dialysis session.
He had been told that without a transplant he would die, but that dialysis could help him stay alive while doctors hunted for a match.
It wasn’t long before the pair started to fall in love.
Kirstie said: “I chatted with all my patients, but being similar ages we just got on very well.
“I started to look forward to Ethan coming in for treatment and missed him when he wasn’t around.”
She added: “I knew that it was hard enough to find a donor match but in Ethan’s case his ethnicity meant it might take even longer to find a suitable match.”
Ethan eventually plucked up the courage to ask Kirstie out for dinner on Valentine’s Day 2014. It was then that they both confessed how they felt about each other.
They had to face the fact that Ethan might die waiting for a new kidney. But in May 2015 his prayers were answered and doctors were able to operate.
Now Ethan is stronger than ever and the couple can finally make plans for the future.