A mum of two has lost 54kg in a secret weight-loss mission to donate a kidney to her sick husband.
Cynara Stalenhoef and her husband Matt, of Rockingham, south of Perth, discovered he had been diagnosed with an extremely rare genetic condition known as Tubular Sclerosis in 2015.
It’s a condition that sees tumours spread throughout the body including the brain, lungs and heart.
Only a few thousand people in Australia have Mr Stalenhoef’s condition, which was found during a routine medical check-up. He said doctors discovered it after finding protein in his urine.
Ms Stalenhoef said her husband had tumours on his skin and in his brain, but most of them are in his kidneys which means he will require a transplant.
Doctors advised removing both of his kidneys. He’s undergone a drug treatment to delay progression of the symptoms but it’s no longer working. The family also looked overseas for options.
Ms Stalenhoef offered to donate a kidney to her husband but was told she couldn’t.
“I've got this doctor telling me I can't save any of my family’s lives because I like cake too much,” Ms Stalenhoef told Today Tonight.
She said she was “a little bit shocked” on realising she couldn’t donate him a kidney because she was “too fat”.
At the time, the mum of two was more than 108kg at 157cm tall.
In order to save her husband’s life and give him a kidney, Ms Stalenhoef decided the only way was to undergo gastric banding to lose weight. Her reason for doing so remained secret from her husband too.
But even after undergoing surgery, the mum’s work wasn’t done. She decided to take on a gruelling workout schedule.
“Two and a half months in I started with a personal trainer here in Rockingham (and) doing group fitness training and absolutely loved it,” Ms Stalenhoef said.
“By September I was running 5km and now I'm running half marathons.”
Incredibly, Ms Stalenhoef managed to lost 54kg – half her bodyweight. She now weighs 54kg.
Mr Stalenhoef said he “didn’t realise” his wife’s surgery and punishing workout schedule was just for him.
“It was a bit of a shock,” he said.
“I haven't really properly thanked her, it hasn't yet sunk in a kidney's coming out and all the rest of it, I'm kind of in denial at the moment.”
Mr Stalenhoef hasn’t received the kidney yet but the surgery is edging closer. He then has to be tumour-free for several years before getting a transplant.
“To know that you just have to do dialysis for two years and then we can get the ball rolling makes it a lot less scary,” the mum said.
Mr Stalenhoef said he’s “really grateful” for what his wife has done for him.