Cathi could never imagine that a simple typo would play a significant role in her husband’s transplant journey.
In 2019, David received life-changing news that he was in kidney failure. Shaken by this diagnosis, his wife, Cathi, went to social media to gather advice on finding a donor. She typed in her county and stumbled upon a page raising awareness for another person in kidney failure awaiting a transplant. After reading her story, Cathi realized that they both were in Butler County but in neighboring states. Cathi made an instant connection and gained more than advice but inspiration and support for her and David’s transplant journey. Cathi’s inspiration led her and her son to create t-shirts to support both causes and raise awareness for David’s need for a kidney.
The long-distance collaboration blossomed into an invaluable support group for both Cathi and David.
On Thanksgiving, David received an early Christmas gift; Cathi’s niece, Alyce, gave them the wonderful news that she was a match and wanted to donate her kidney. The couple was joyful and apprehensive about putting Alyce through such a procedure with mixed emotions because she had a family and young children of her own. Yet, Alyce was determined to be a donor because she could personally attest to the power of organ donation. When Alyce was nine years old, her father was tragically killed in a mining accident, and her father’s kidneys were donated. Alyce remained in contact with her father’s kidney recipient and felt that donating her kidney to David was “meant to be.” Alyce was unwavering in her decision, and they both moved forward with the transplant process.
David was scheduled to receive his kidney on December 11th, 2020, but it was postponed due to a blood transfusion that he had received. The surgeons were concerned that the antibodies he acquired from the blood might cause rejection of Alyce’s kidney. So, David nervously waited while his wife and community prayed that Alyce could still be a viable donor.
As David went through more testing, the months rolled by, still waiting for the labs to improve and a surgery date. In February of 2021, Cathi and David got word that their friend in Ohio had finally received her kidney transplant. The couple were overjoyed for their friend but wondered when they could celebrate their own transplant news.
Finally, in March, David received the much-anticipated news that the antibodies had cleared and Alyce was still a donor match! On the Sunday before the procedure, the couple’s community surprised them with a 20-car long caravan of supporters. Cathi and David were overwhelmed by the emotional support that their family and community had displayed. On May 3rd, 2021, David received Alyce’s kidney at Alleghany General Hospital in Pittsburgh. Thankfully, Cathi was able to visit David each day before and after the transplant. If the surgery had occurred in December, David could not have received any visitors due to COVID. Cathi and David realized that their prayers had been answered and that the 3-month wait was a blessing in disguise.
Cathi encourages others to surround themselves with supportive family and friends and to adopt a positive mindset. The transplant journey can be an emotional roller coaster, so a strong support system is paramount. She urges caregivers to continually be a good advocate for their loved ones, be persistent in following up on medical care, and champion the cause of transplant awareness.
Have a transplant or organ donation story to tell? Contact us.