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One year post transplant – Nurse joins mission trip to Africa

Patient Story

It’s been a year since she received a new kidney from one of her co-workers and now Cathy Woodard said she can’t believe how much energy she has.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes, tfender1@iuhealth.org

It’s hard to tell who has the biggest smile. One year after Tina Scott donated a kidney to her co-worker Cathy Woodard, the two stand side-by-side wearing matching t-shirts that read: “Kidney Buddies for Life.” To celebrate the one-year anniversary of the gift of life, they share a white cake decorated with a purple kidney.

Their story is somewhat unusual. They worked together in the same Lafayette Hospital but it was a social media post that brought the two together.

Woodard was added to the transplant list in July of 2018 after being diagnosed with chronic kidney failure. She began dialysis in December 2018 – her body was on a fast track toward renal failure.

A month after she was listed for transplant, Woodard turned to social media in hopes of finding a match. Or rather, her cat named “Gracie” turned to social media. The message: “My owner needs a new kidney.”

Woodard explained in the post: “My best option is to find a living kidney donor instead of waiting up to five years for a transplant from a deceased donor. I am O positive. I don’t feel sick. I don’t look sick. I work three, 12-hour shifts a week. I do dialysis at home. I am tired all the time, I have a decreased appetite, and sometimes my blood levels are low. It could be a lot worse.”

Two months passed and she still had no response. She increased her posts and by chance, the request caught the eye of Tina Scott. Not only was Scott a registered organ donor, she was the nurse who helped orient Woodard when she began working at the same hospital.

Once Scott completed testing and learned she was a match, the two became instant “Kidney buddies.”

On Feb. 22, 2019 Woodward was in OR under the care of IU Health Dr. William C. Goggins. Scott was in another OR nearby under the care of Dr. Chandru P. Sundaram. The surgery was a success and four days later Woodard was released to go home.

Since then, the two women continue working at the same hospital – Scott floats on night shift and Woodard has taken a position educating patients in cardiac rehab.

“How has life changed in the past year? I can’t believe how much energy I have. I didn’t realize how tired I was before transplant,” said Woodward, who is married to Ross Woodard.

She has started back up with one of her favorite hobbies running, and she and her “kidney buddy” are training for a half marathon.

Before her illness she joined an annual mission trip to Ghana, West Africa. She sat out last year, but recently left for a two-week trip – her seventh. Pictures show her holding infants and surrounded by children at a primary school.

“In the first few weeks after surgery Tina and I exchanged text messages daily. She returned to work after just six weeks,” said Woodward. “Now we see each other at work and catch up on what we’ve missed. She’s not just a new lifelong friend; she’s family. “

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