updated 5/4/2007 10:23:35 AM ET 2007-05-04T14:23:35

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — A couple who grew apart and had agreed to split up were reunited by a life-threatening crisis.

After more than 10 years of marriage, Chip and Cindy Altemos agreed about 5 years ago to separate, see other people, and begin divorce proceedings. But when 48-year-old Chip was hospitalized with kidney failure in September, Cindy, 49, offered him one of hers.

The two, of South Whitehall Township, agreed to separate because of “all the woes and troubles” they brought from previous marriages.

But Cindy Altemos, on the verge of being Chip’s ex-wife, said this week: “He was still my husband.”

'The right thing to do'
As a former phlebotomist who had worked with renal patients, Cindy Altemos said she knew “exactly what he was up against,” and had long thought he would eventually need a transplant because he had had juvenile diabetes. When they married she had promised to be a donor.

“There was no way I could walk around with two kidneys and he had none,” she said. “It was the right thing to do.”

The transplant took place Feb. 21.

Chip Altemos said his wife’s gesture put an end to his new relationship and to talk of divorce. The two will be married 17 years in October.

“We’re still together,” he said. “I guess just being around each other, we slowly fell back in love again.”

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