Overjoyed at the ability to give his best friend another shot at life, a British man popped the question in hopes that the woman he’d just donated his kidney to would be happy to spend the rest of her days with him — but she declined.
Simon Louis was left with his heart in his hand after proposing to longtime friend Mary Emmanuelle after their surgeries, the Daily Mirror reported. Though she loved him back, Emmanuelle said she gently rejected Louis’ proposal because her health made their future uncertain. The two have vowed to stay friends, however.
“I offered her my heart but I had to settle for giving her my kidney,” Louis told the magazine. “Whatever happens, I’ll never regret giving her the gift of life.”
The two first met in a London bar in the mid-’90s where they shared a brief romance. Things didn’t progress from there, but the two remained in touch over the years. Louis admitted his feelings for for Emmanuelle never faded, despite him dating other women.
In September 2014, however, his love suddenly fell ill and collapsed at her home. Emmanuelle was rushed to Guy’s Hospital in South London after her 21-year-old son found her on the floor choking on her own vomit, according to Daily Mirror. She was in a coma for a week following a brain hemorrhage and was later diagnosed with end-stage kidney disease.
Her only option was a transplant but donors with her rare blood type were few and far between
“I couldn’t believe it – I had been given a death sentence,” Emmanuelle told the magazine. “My name was put on a ‘dead donor’ list. I could only wait.”
She was eventually discharged from the hospital, but her poor health left her reliant on a dialysis machine. Through it all, Louis was at her side to nurse her back to health, even moving her into his apartment to tend to her.
“He was an excellent nurse,” Emmanuelle said. “At night he’d lie on the bed, tell me funny stories and stroke me to sleep. The love and attention he gave me helped me through that dark time.”
Weeks later, Louis suggested he be tested to see if he was a match for Emmanuelle, and it turned out he was. Months of assessments followed but the pair eventually underwent surgery, according to the magazine.
After months of recovery, Louis finally mustered up the courage to ask Emmanuelle to marry him one night during dinner. But she had to turn him down.
Despite her refusal, Louis said he has no regrets about donating his kidney.
“I didn’t think twice about it,” he told Daily Mirror. “There’s no question about doing something like that for someone you love.”