LEBANON, Ore. - Dialysis is like a full-time job, and Mark Fuller has been working at it for three years.
"It just feels like you're being drained," said Fuller. "When I started dialysis, I was really nervous and just scared to death. I didn't even know what was going to happen to me."
Fuller used to work with cars and tractors, but he said his stamina isn't what it used to be. He has kidney failure, brought on by diabetes and high blood pressure. That diagnosis came four or five years ago.
"Walked out of there bawling, you know, crying, thought I was done," he said. "And then they give me this chance with dialysis. And I took it."
Dialysis tethers you to one location. To live a more mobile life Fuller started looking for a kidney transplant donor, first at his siblings. None were matches.
"And Valerie goes, 'well, I'll try it for you,'" Fuller remembered. Valerie Wallulis, his longtime partner, didn't hesitate to get the test, nor did she hesitate after hearing the result.
Wallulis is a childcare provider. Fuller and she have been together for years, and was a match for kidney donation.
"You've got to have, you know, a strong heart," said Wallulis. It takes a big one, too, to give that kind of gift.
"When you see somebody you love, their health deteriorating over the years...it's really not a hard decision when you realize you can do something to change it....and make it better," she said.
After about a year of going through test after test to ensure Wallulis would be a fit donor, the surgery is just days away.
"There's no describing the deep love I have for her now. That's a real, giving love, I would say," said Fuller. "That's beyond love, that's a life love."
The surgery is scheduled for Friday in Portland, and hopefully this life love will continue for many, many years.
If you want to help the couple cover expenses, their family has set up a fund at Wells Fargo for donations (The Mark and Val Kidney Fund).