We Are Proof - UK Transplant Center
Real Patient Stories
The UK Transplant Center is more than a healthcare clinic. It’s a living, breathing network of determined doctors and nurses, researchers and staff, patients and families. Their stories of passion, perseverance and courage prove The Power of Advanced Medicine every day.
“She just donated her kidney to Julie.”
When Julie Tate was 18 months old, she got sick. Her mother, Holly Tate, took Julie to UK Kentucky Children’s Hospital where she was diagnosed with E. coli. The infection had developed a complication which led to kidney failure. Despite the treatment she received in the hospital and the care her family delivered after they returned home, Julie’s kidney failure progressed over the next few years. At age 5, she returned to Kentucky Children’s Hospital for a kidney transplant evaluation, and her family began the search for a donor.
“I needed to do this for my family.”
Mae Lewis was surprised when she was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. She had no physical symptoms of lung disease and never smoked a day in her life. Monthly checkups revealed Mae’s diagnosis but she stopped going due to her husband’s deteriorating health. Mae started to experience shortness of breath and was referred to a pulmonologist. She learned about an option she had never considered before: a lung transplant.
“Lord, please send me a kidney.”
Ivan Graves has known Marci Smith for nearly a decade through their work at West Jessamine High School. Ivan had been on dialysis for five years when his doctor told him he needed a kidney transplant. When he mentioned this to Marci, one brief conversation changed both of their lives. For years, Marci hadwanted to donate a kidney.
“Tell them you’re going to be okay and that you’re not going anywhere.”
Breanna Jessie was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at age 3 and at the end of her junior year of high school, her health took a sharp downturn. The road to transplant wasn’t going to be easy. After relearning to walk, Breanna was matched with a set of donor lungs, but her body rejected them. After her second transplant was successful, Breanna said, “I need to get back on my feet, learn my meds, learn how to take care of myself. I have things to do now.”
“First, advocate for yourself. Second, it’s patience, time and perseverance.”
It took many treatments and years to be diagnosed with Alpha-1 Antitrypsin, a genetic disease, and by age 45, Teresa Schladt was told her liver was failing. Teresa received a liver transplant, but the road afterward was not easy. Just 10 days later, she was diagnosed with liver cancer while dealing with two rejections and type 2 diabetes. Finally, Teresa received a successful transplant. Thanks to her care team, Teresa is able to manage her conditions and love the life made possible by her donor and his family.
“Just when I started to think about my memorial—that’s when the phone rang.”
After being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, Sarah Lister got the call from her doctor that a bone marrow donor had been found. Sarah was able to swap contact information with her donor, thank him for saving her life and invite him to join her at the Markey Cancer Center’s Expressions of Courage event, an annual celebration of cancer survivorship. Sarah declared that Thad’s generosity is the biggest reason she is still here.
“It’s long hours, but I’ll tell you, I wouldn’t trade it. There’s no greater joy.”
Joy Coles, a nurse practitioner at UK HealthCare’s Gill Heart & Vascular Institute, loves being part of a place that helps those who need transplants. She loves getting to see them return to their loved ones. When Joy was a teenager, her brother suffered a massive heart attack and passed away at age 27. That tragedy pushed her toward cardiovascular medicine.