A wish come true: West Forsyth senior celebrates one year after successful kidney transplant

Published 12:09 am Thursday, December 29, 2022

By Janie Peterson
For the Clemmons Courier

For many, the new year means new goals and resolutions.
But for West Forsyth senior Kate Plemmons, it means celebrating the gift of life.
Jan. 26 will mark the one-year-anniversary of Kate’s kidney transplant, and thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, she will be packing her bags for her dream vacation. The journey to this point has not been an easy one, however.
One morning when she was in the seventh grade, Plemmons woke up with her ankles swollen, but went to school anyway.
“I came home and my knees were the size of a mini basketball,” Plemmons said.
Prior to that morning, there had been no signs of anything wrong, but her family had a history of congestive heart failure and was beginning to worry.
“I ended up going to the hospital and found out I was in stage three kidney failure,” Plemmons said.
She was put on a high dose of steroids and chemotherapy.
“I was on steroids for a year, and chemo for about six months and lost all my hair at age 13. It was rough,” Plemmons said.
Plemmons was told that once she reached stage five kidney failure, she would need a transplant. The time came in September of last year, just before she turned 18, when she began having seizures.
“I had about 12 seizures within four hours and ended up finding out that I was in stage five kidney failure and was put on dialysis immediately and was on dialysis for four months until I got the kidney,” Plemmons said.
The process of finding a compatible kidney proved to be stressful. She was placed on an active transplant list, which can take up to five years to receive a kidney.
“For me it was just a waiting game until I was able to find a match, but everybody who got tested to give a kidney to me wasn’t a match,” Plemmons said.
Until she received a life-changing call.
“I got a call two weeks before my transplant saying that there’s a deceased owner who was a perfect match for me and to come into the hospital by ten o’clock that night,” Plemmons said.
She and her family had two hours to pack their bags and race to the hospital before the kidney was given to someone else.
“My mom said that the stress level was about the same as going into labor and having to be at the hospital really quickly,” Plemmons said.
The surgery was successful, and she recovered quickly. Within three days, she was walking down the hospital hallway.
During her extended hospital stay waiting for her kidney, Plemmons’ doctor referred her to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. She was able to submit five wishes, which included a trip to Washington, D.C. and a new lens for her camera. Ultimately, her top wish, a trip to Hawaii, was granted just before her 18th birthday, after which she would have been ineligible for the program.
“I made a whole list of wishes that I wanted, but one of my top trips ever is to go to Hawaii, so I did that as one of my wishes and they accepted it,” Plemmons said.
With family and friends close by, Plemmons stayed hopeful throughout the entire experience.
“I just knew that there would be a brighter ending and I put my faith and trust in God to get me through it,” Plemmons said.
Her ending is bright indeed… and also sunny and warm. The family trip to Hawaii is scheduled for March 15-23. In June, Kate will graduate and plans on going to either Appalachian State University or Western Carolina University to double major in kindergarten teaching and photography and minor in interior design.