CINCINNATI — We have watched Ross Township police chief Darryl Haussler through ups and downs over the last two years. We highlighted his struggle with scleroderma, an autoimmune disease that targets connective tissues.
In Haussler's case, the disease enacted a high toll on his kidneys; he's been on dialysis and doctors informed him he would require a transplant.
That's where family friend of 15 years, Maria Wessel, came in.
"She's just amazing, absolutely amazing," said Haussler. "She doesn't like it when we talk about her like that, but she is. She's just our angel."
Wessel said she made the decision to be tested for compatibility, and just knew she would be a match, and she didn't hesitate to offer her kidney to her longtime friend.
The day of the transplant finally came in mid-October, among chilly temperatures and changing leaves. Maria went into the OR first, but her part of the process didn't take long.
Haussler, on the other hand, was in surgery for about four hours.
The experience bonded the two, and their families beyond the 15 years of friendship they shared. "Our whole families, I think, now have a connection because it is definitely a family process," said Wessel. "I mean, it wasn't just Darryl and I."
The new kidney has been working just fine since the minute Haussler received it, and although his scleroderma is still present and pesky, he's on the road to recovery, surrounded by people who care about him most.
"She gave me a gift that I can never repay outside of doing the very best I can to take care of this kidney," said Haussler. "That's probably the best gift I can give her in return, because 'thank you' is just not enough, from my perspective anyway."
Haussler expects to return part time to his job as Ross Township police chief in the new year. After, of course, he enjoys Christmas with his donor and family.