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Transplant Patient: “Dr. Fridell is a Miracle Worker”

Patient Stories

June 04, 2019

Last year, Sarah Henderson Powell received her second pancreas transplant. Now, she’s enjoying a life filled with celebrating milestones.

A torn rotator cuff recently sent Sarah Henderson Powell to the hospital. The injury was an inconvenience but it was also a disappointment. She was all set to head to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as an ambassador for the Indiana Donor Network.

But there will be other opportunities to advocate for organ donation. She was given those opportunities when she received her second pancreas transplant a year ago.

“I was absolutely devastated because I wanted to be at the track. What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger, right?” said Powell, 36 the mother of two boys, Jake, 6 and Jack, 4. She married Travis Powell in 2012 and he has a son Garrett.

The stress of the injury resulted in shingles and she ended up in the hospital. The good news: She was discharged in time to make it to her son’s Kindergarten graduation.

Graduations, ball games, trips to the zoo, birthdays and anniversaries are a reality for Powell now. She knows there will be more.

On February 13, 2018 Powell received her second pancreas transplant and was in the care of IU Health Dr. Jonathan A. Fridell. A year later she wrote:

“Today is a special day – not just for me but for the little girl who lost her life a year ago and whose family chose to donate her organs so that she could live on and save five lives. Today I honor her with my eternal gratitude, not just from me but also from my entire family. I’m so honored that I can continue to live my best life for her. Because of her, I was able to spend another Christmas with my family, see my children have another birthday and go to bed every night with my family. Thank you IU Health and Dr. Jonathan Fridell. I owe you everything. You are a miracle worker.”

Powell was 26 when she was diagnosed with Type I diabetes. The disease took its toll on her. She received her first pancreas transplant on Nov. 11, 2016 – also under the care of Dr. Fridell. For two months she said she felt better than she could ever remember. But in February 2017, her body began rejecting the organ so she was again listed for another transplant.

She was back home six days after her surgery and a year later, she completed training as a volunteer advocate with the Indiana Donor Network. And there’s more. Powell has also joined other pancreas transplant patients for lunches and social media share groups.

“Hands down Dr. Fridell is the best doctor I’ve ever had and I should know. I’ve had a lot of them,” said Powell. “Every time I’ve had a little set back, he’s been on top of it. Is it easy? Heck no. Do I have sick days? Yes, but fewer than before. Will life be easy for me? Probably not, but I want to live my best life and give back to others to honor my donor for giving me a chance to live my life.”

-- By T.J. Banes, Journalist, IU Health.
Reach Banes via email tfender1@iuhealth.org.

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