Teacher's kidney donation a success
It didn't take Joan Austin Elementary teacher Carolyn Davidson long, just a matter of days over the summer, to decide to donate one of her kidneys to Sherwood High School teacher Sarah Holtz.
It took much less time, if any at all, for Holtz's body to accept the organ during the surgery Oct. 30 at Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center in Portland. Both patients are recovering well a month later.
"The surgeon came out after the surgery and told us that the second the kidney was connected, it started working," Holtz's friend and colleague Angi Muckey said. "Usually they take minutes to hours. I don't think Sarah knew how bad she felt."
Holtz found out at age 30 that she had kidney disease and spent as much as 12 hours a night on dialysis for nearly two years in order to continue serving as an English language development teacher. When her condition worsened this fall, Davidson had the surgery moved up a month early.
"It is a true miracle," Holtz said. "I didn't expect to feel so well and my quality of life has improved so much. My lab levels are doing great and my doctors are blown away."
Holtz did encounter some surgical complications, including excessive water retention around the kidney and legs, that required three more procedures to address, but she returned home Nov. 22 and spent Thanksgiving with her family.
"Sarah's finally home and doing well," Davidson said. "There were some bumps in the road about two weeks ago, but overall, the kidney is working great. That's been fantastic to hear."
Davidson also encountered a complication during surgery, as part of her rib was removed to allow doctors to remove the kidney, but otherwise has been enjoying a speedy recovery after her five-day stint in the hospital.
"I'm feeling more like myself," Davidson said. "Everybody keeps asking if my body feels different. It really doesn't. I don't feel a difference, which is kind of nice."
Both families and many supporters were at Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center in Portland the day of the surgery and prayed around the two women's beds before their surgeries, with Davidson's starting about 30 minutes before Holtz's.
They stayed in touch while at the hospital and continue to talk or text almost daily.
"It's amazing to have one family and now I have a new family too," Holtz said. "We've both been in a lot of pain since our surgeries, but I have a whole new life. When I woke up from the anesthesia, I felt like a new person. My skin color was good and the 'alligator' skin I had has gone away."
Davidson was told to expect a recovery of six to eight weeks, but she returned to her classroom at Austin Elementary on Monday after just four weeks, working half days to start.
"I've kind of been sitting around for four weeks, so it'll be nice getting back into things," Davidson said. "I'm going back happy, especially knowing that Sarah is doing so well."
Before her complications, Holtz was in line for three to four months of recovery, including the first month with her mom and step-father, who are her caregivers. She hopes to return to teaching possibly as early as the spring, but by the start of the next school year at the latest. To follow her recovery, visit her "Share Your Spare 'Kidney' for Sarah" page on Facebook.
Meanwhile, Davidson's return to normalcy has already begun and involves no regrets, at least not any plausible ones.
"It was well worth it," Davidson said. "I wish I had another one to give."