WEST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — When News 8 first met this family in August 2020, they were enjoying baby Marley’s first visit to the beach.
“We had our miracle boy,” Katelyn Hickman explained. The baby was a miracle due to her fiancee’s poor health. Yannick Napier had been sick for years.
And the beach is where this Connecticut family has always come during their most stressful days.
“Even when you’re down, it picks you up,” she said.
And it’s now where they’re celebrating a joyous event at Thanksgiving time.
“I remember the morning we woke up we were doing our regular morning routine,” said Napier, who had been waiting nine years for a kidney transplant.
Two months ago, he got a phone call. But, he’d received calls like this before, and they hadn’t panned out.
“This call was more like, ‘You have to come down right now, we have a match and it’s good to go,'” he said.
“I promise you, I fell to the floor and bawled my eyes out because we’d been waiting so long we have so much riding on this,” said Hickman.
“There were tears everywhere, it was a beautiful moment,” recalled Napier.
Finding a perfect match was particularly difficult because Napier had already received a kidney transplant in 2007, but his body rejected it.
He was born in Jamaica and has struggled with a rare condition involving his urethral valves his entire life.
“It’s the first time in the 17 years we’ve known each other that I’ve known him healthy,” said Hickman.
But they know that their joy is matched by someone else’s grief.
“That hurts your heart, it’s heavy, it weighs on you,” said Hickman, noting that the couple sent a letter to the deceased donor’s family.
“We are completely grateful for this opportunity and we’re sending their family prayers and well wishes,” said Napier.
Napier and Hickman can now get married and learn to live life with Marley without constant interruption.
“We’ve never really been able to be a couple without dialysis being the third wheel,” said Napier.
Right after the surgery, he was in “breathtaking pain”.
But, now, this 37-year-old dad is chasing after little Marley who has boundless energy.
“The difference is day and night, you’re so aware, you’re alert, you have energy, you feel good,” he said. “I think this is what normal kind of feels like.”
These days, the beach means fun, family time, and plans for a busy future for this budding family.
“Just enjoying every moment with my soon-to-be wife and my son. It’s just a new lease on life, I guess you’d say, right? And, I feel ecstatic about it,” he said with emotion.
Now that he’s feeling well, Napier wants to go back to school to perhaps study medicine.
The wedding will take place in June.