Young Albany woman saved by UAB's kidney transplant chain
Katelyn Pickel had been sick for a couple months in October of last year when she found out she had full kidney failure. She eventually got a kidney transplant thanks to University of Alabama Birmingham's UAB Hospital.
"My kidneys just have been slowly deteriorating," Pickel said. "Like they were just turning into scared tissue over years and years and I just never knew it."
The news sent her family into a frenzy.
"My first words were, you got to be kidding me." said Katelyn's mother Toni. "As a parent that's the last thing you expect."
Katelyn spent the next nine months trying to fight back to health through dialysis. Her creatin level was still at 12. The normal level is 1. That's when the option for a transplant became available. Her father Earl wanted to donate a kidney, but he wasn't a match. The family then learned of a kidney transplant chain organized by UAB.
"They have a pair swap program which means, he gave his kidney and it didn't go to Katelyn, it went to another person, and then Katelyn got a kidney from another person," the elder Pickel said.
With the transplant complete, Katelyn is feeling happy and lively again.
"I couldn't be more energetic than I have been for months on end now," she said. "I'm happy about that."
Katelyn is now taking online classes with the goal of heading back to school to get a degree in psychology.