I GAVE MY HUSBAND'S EX A KIDNEY
WOMAN'S OWN|January 24, 2022
Debby Neal-Strickland Merthe, 57, is closer than most to her partner’s ex-wife
FRANCESCA WOODSTOCK, LUCY LAING

Looking into my husband’s eyes, I felt so happy. It was 22 November 2020, and we’d just exchanged wedding vows. Exactly 10 years since our first date, it was wonderful to finally be able to call Jim, then 57, my husband.

We’d both been married before and had four children and seven grandchildren between us.

But while my previous relationship was firmly in the past, Jim’s ex was very much part of our lives and always would be.

I’d met Jim in 2010. A single mum of two, I’d left my husband seven years earlier.

Jim owned a scrapyard business, and I towed cars for a living, so we met through our work.

We got talking one day, and there was an instant connection between us. He told me he ran the business with his ex-wife, Mylaen, then 49.

Jim was a good man, but he had his demons – he was struggling with alcoholism, and it was the reason he and Mylaen had split up. They’d divorced in 2008, but their relationship remained amicable.

And when I met Mylaen a few weeks later, we got on well. We had a lot in common, we both had two children, and we just understood each other.

But although I liked Jim, I wasn’t prepared to take our relationship any further unless he got sober.

‘I’ll support you,’ I told him, and it was the push he needed.

On 22 November 2010, we had our first date, and from that moment, he never had another drink.

Mylaen was happy for us, and she was pleased to see Jim healthy. He was a good father, and although it may seem odd that we got on, Mylaen and I were always friendly with each other.

HEALTH CRISIS

Over time, I learnt more about Mylaen’s past. She had been diagnosed with pre-eclampsia during her first pregnancy with her and Jim’s son, Jimmy, and had extremely high blood pressure.

After Jimmy was born, in 1989, doctors prescribed medication, but when she fell pregnant again six months later, her kidney function dropped.

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