How one couple stared death — then life — in the face

THIBODAUX, LA -- Mark Goldman's job is all about death.  For more than 20 years, he worked as a forensic investigator with the Jefferson Parish Coroner's Office.  Now he works for the Lafourche Parish Coroner's Office.

Goldman's phone rings when someone is dead, and his job requires a variety of tasks.  Among other things, he works to identify bodies, transport them from the place of death, and even hurries -- when possible -- to make sure their organs are donated to people in need of a transplant.

But in August of 2015, Mark's life changed forever.  He was in the process of transporting a body when the van he was driving broke-down along the way.  Goldman became overheated and was rushed to the emergency room.

"It was like over night, I was being told I had to go on dialysis and the only treatment after that would be a transplant."

Now the man who spent so much time working to make sure other people received organ donations was in need of one himself.  He was told it could take years, and his health was failing.

"I came close to dying several times," he says.

Goldman's family members all wanted to help.  They offered to see if they had a kidney that would be a perfect match.  But he told them that he was too worried they might become sick later in life and need both kidneys.

During the waiting game, Goldman received constant support from his wife, who was uniquely qualified to lend an ear.  Melody Goldman also worked as a forensics investigator and as an emergency room nurse.

She told her husband that she, knowing the risks and his feelings, wanted to get tested to see if she could donate a kidney.

"A lot of it was just to give him hope," she says.  But it did more than give Goldman hope.

"I never really thought that I would be a match," Melody told WGNO.  "I never really thought!"

She was.  And in November of 2016, Tulane Medical Center handled the transplant.  Nearly a year later, both husband and wife are doing fine.

If you'd like to find out more about how the transplant has changed their marriage, click on the video button above to see our story.

Both Goldmans are strong advocates for people to become organ donors.  If you're interested in becoming a donor, you can find out more information on the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency's website.