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Congratulations to Our 2019 Graduates!

When she was just 8 years old, Katie Linder learned that she would need a kidney transplant to survive.

"I was doing a Chemo treatment for the disease that caused my kidneys to shut down, Wegener’s Granulomatosis. It’s an autoimmune disease that cut off blood flow to my kidneys and eventually killed them. We were just sitting in a hospital room, and a doctor came in and told us--very nonchalantly--that I was going to need a kidney. Before we could even process the information, my dad said 'Honey, don’t worry about it, I’ll take care of it.' And that’s exactly what he did."

Katie's father, David, was tested and was an excellent match. He became her living kidney donor on January 19, 2010.

"I was in renal failure for a year. When your kidney dies, a machine has to process everything for you. Everything you drink, all your toxins, aren’t processed naturally. Needless to say, I felt terrible all the time."

"I didn’t laugh for a year," she recalls of her illness.

"That all changed after my kidney transplant. My dad and I were as close of a match as we could have been without being identical twins, so immediately after I was hooked up, I started making clear urine. Everything that had been taken from me was finally back, and after a week of getting my life back, I felt like a new person. Only 3 days post transplant, I was running around, smiling, laughing and being happy again. It was a
week before I was completely recovered, barring the 6 weeks of confinement due to my
weakened immune system. It took my dad a year to recover. But for me, it was a pretty awesome experience."

Since her transplant, Katie feels she can experience so much more than when she was in kidney failure.

"I can actually experience the outside world now without knowing I have to go home to my machine. That’s the biggest perk, is having that freedom now that I wasn’t previously granted."

On June 15, Katie will graduate high school. Like so many pediatric recipients, her graduation was brought about by a selfless gift, the gift of organ donation.

Donate Life NC would like to announce all our 2019 Honor Cord recipients:

Katie Linder, East Rutherford High School

Katie earned her Honor Cord through her exceptional fundraising and donor registration projects, in addition to her service as the Forest City DMV Ambassador.

Taylor Leonard, Cape Fear High School

Taylor earned her Honor Cord through her longtime service as an Ambassador to both Fayetteville DMV offices and for her work founding Legacy: The Power of Organ Donation in her god-brother's memory, sharing his story and advocating for organ donation.

Arlette Jacobo, Central Valley High School

Arlette earned her Honor Cord by completing a year-long project on organ donation, inspired by her mother's position at the NC DMV. She focused on peer education and teen-focused DMV marketing, reaching out to educate other and spread awareness about organ, eye and tissue donation.

Sophie Korenek, Dixon High School, Recipient 2019 Donate Life NC Transplant Medicine Scholarship

Sophie received the 2019 Donate Life NC Transplant Medicine Scholarship and her Honor Cord through her truly exceptional work her HOSA Chapter.  She plans to study biochemistry and philosophy at NC State, before attending medical school to become a surgeon. She says, "As a future surgeon, transplant medicine will certainly be an integral part of my career. Being able to observe the recent improvements in organ, eye and tissue donation technology has been incredibly interesting and has given me hope for how I will be able to help my future patients. The Donate Life NC Scholarship will not only help me achieve these goals by making my education more affordable, but has already shown me the benefits of becoming involved in such a dedicated group of people."

Congratulations to all our graduates! You've worked so hard and we can't wait to see how far you'll go.