Cat got her wish – Nurse donated a kidney

Two nurses who work in the same hospital formed a special bond when one became a kidney donor for the other.

There’s one happy cat in this world. Her name is “Gracie.” Several months ago Gracie’s picture was posted on social media with a sign that read: “My owner needs a new kidney.” The post included a phone number where readers could call to be tested as a kidney donor for the cat’s owner, Cathy Woodard, a nurse in Lafayette.

The Facebook page caught the eye of a fellow nurse Tina Scott. Other than nursing the two women didn’t have a lot in common. Scott, the mother of two adult children is a 50-year-old grandmother who lives in the country with her husband of 28 years, Carl. Woodard, 32, has been married to Ross Woodard for six years and they have a dog named, “Dixie,” and a cat named “Gracie.”

Four years ago Woodard was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease. In July of 2018 she was added to the transplant list. Her body was on a fast track to renal failure and in December of 2018 she began dialysis.

Through it all she remained positive – even naming her dialysis machine, “Perry.”

A month after she was added to the transplant list, Woodard began reaching out on social media in hopes of finding a viable kidney donor.

“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,” Woodard wrote.

After two months she still had no responses to her posts. So she increased her posts and also posted in a few groups. Her posts ended up being shared well over 500 times. One of those shares caught the eye of Scott – a fellow nurse who helped orient Woodard when she started working in CCU.

In October, Woodard received a message from Scott saying she was being tested as a donor. “It started with a blood test, then more blood tests, heart tests, urine tests, more blood work. Finally, in December, she had her final meeting with the IU Health transplant team. Then we waited,” said Woodard.  

For years, Scott had identified herself as a donor on her license. When she heard about Woodard’s story she felt the need to act now.

“I go on faith. If something happened to my remaining kidney I hope someone would step up for me,” said Scott. “People asked me, ‘what if one of your kids needs a kidney?’ My response is, ‘what if they don’t.’ I could live to be 100 and not have helped anyone. Nursing has showed me that life can change fast so you have to make the most of it.”

A post on Scott’s Facebook page reads: “No act of kindness no matter how small is ever wasted.”

When the women learned they are a match, Woodward celebrated by ordering kidney-shaped cookies to share with the fellow nurses at their Lafayette hospital.

On Feb. 22 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.

Throughout her hospital stay Woodward offered daily updates on social media and even life reports.

After her transplant she wrote: “My life has been a roller coaster for the last year. From being at stage 5 kidney disease, being evaluated for transplant, placed on dialysis at home – this is the best news ever. Thank you all so much for your thoughts, your prayers, but most of all for sharing my posts about a donor. God has been with me through all of this by keeping me patient, calm, and as healthy as I could be for my disease. February 22nd is the start of a better life. I will forever have a special bond to my donor.”

— By T.J. Banes, Journalist, IU Health.
   Reach Banes via email