KILLEN, AL (WAFF) - To talk to Katie Clement today you would think she is a very healthy, vibrant young woman. But in high school, while going through a physical to play basketball, a problem was noted.
"I had high blood pressure. They thought I had a heart murmur, so we went further into it," Katie said.
Searching for answers lead the Killen family to Memphis, "and that is where they realized that I had FSGS, or Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis," she recalled.
It's a type of kidney disease where scarring or sclerosis forms, preventing the kidneys from properly filtering blood. It's the second leading cause of kidney failure in children.
After a few years, her kidneys failed to work as they should. Eventually serious discussions about dialysis and transplants led to a hunt for a donor. Siblings did not match, so she said she called her cousin, Clay.
"He said, 'I knew it was meant to be me.' And so he called UAB."
And at age 27 she had the surgery. She said there were some aspects of her stay at UAB which were comforting.
"Waking up and having my family over me... and hearing Mom say that the kidney had pinked up and was working and everything was good," she said.
She spent an extra 10 days in the hospital after a complication. She then had to live in Birmingham to be near the transplant team. She said she was glad to finally come home, but even then it took a while for life to get back to normal. "I couldn't get back on a horse, which was my number one priority for three months."
Now she wants to get the word out that people should be tested and placed on a donor list. "...cause you can be a part of something larger than yourself...give back and save lives."
It's a procedure as simple as giving blood. Click here for more information on the waiting list and how to become a donor.