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Cottonwood Heights Journal

The music will go on, thanks to a kidney donor

Dec 03, 2020 01:18PM ● By Josh Wood

Kate Peterson can focus more energy on her music now that she got the kidney transplant she waited over 15 years to receive.

By Joshua Wood | [email protected]

Kate Peterson needed a kidney, and she wanted everyone to know. Peterson, an accomplished Cottonwood Heights musician, found out about her kidney damage back in 2004, and her kidneys gradually declined for the next 16 years. She spent those years waiting for a transplant, which finally came this November. Once recovered, she plans to advocate for others in need of donors.

“I’ve always been a healthy person, a health nut,” Peterson said. “The thing that damaged my kidneys was prescription drugs.” Peterson was prescribed a medication known to be harmful to kidneys, and despite taking all the measures she could to prevent it, she suffered enough damage that her kidneys started failing.

“It was something I really didn’t have,” Peterson said of her previous condition. “It was a misdiagnosis.”

Peterson was scheduled to start home dialysis in mid-November. Dialysis can extend the lives of people with end-stage renal failure. For Peterson, it was an option to keep her going while she waited for a donor.

It turns out, Peterson didn’t need that option. Two days before she was set to start dialysis, she got a call. A kidney from a deceased donor was a match. Later that day, she was at the University of Utah Hospital getting the transplant she had waited years to receive.

According to the Living Kidney Donors Network, there are currently over 93,000 people on the waiting list for a kidney transplant. It can take between five and 10 years for patients to find a deceased donor. About 80% of people on the waiting list are on dialysis. For people like Peterson, receiving a kidney transplant can double life expectancy.

“Fortunately, I qualified for a transplant,” Peterson said. “I’m lucky in that respect and that I have insurance. I had to think about how fortunate I am until I could get a transplant.”

Peterson had been on the deceased kidney donor list for over 15 years and had been told that she would likely have to wait another two years. When that wait ended, when a match was found, she couldn’t believe the wait was finally over.

A native of Salt Lake City, Peterson has been a musician her entire life. She received the “Utah Musician of Great Promise” award by the Utah Chamber of Commerce and Utah Symphony when she was 14 years old. At East High School, she was named a Sterling Scholar in music. Her talents have enabled her to become an accomplished musician. She played violin with the Utah Symphony and performed three concerts in Carnegie Hall with the New York String Orchestra.

She often thought, “I could do so much more music when I get a kidney.”

She had her own chamber music performing group in Southern California for 25 years before she returned home to Utah. She now resides in Cottonwood Heights and teaches private online music lessons. Now that her wait for a transplant is over, she can get back to doing what she loves. “I will be able to teach more private students violin and piano, to compose and record more original music, and enjoy a fuller life,” she said.

Peterson spent years working hard to find a donor. She often wore a T-shirt and posted flyers advertising her need for a transplant. Her blood type is A, but she could have taken advantage of a paired donation program in which donation recipients can trade donors to get the right match.

Peterson got the kidney donation she waited years to receive. In the future, she will focus the energy she spent looking for a donor for herself advocating for others. She wants to let others know how important donating is and how many people are waiting like she did for help.

“After what I went through, once I’ve healed I’ve been inspired to be an advocate for kidney donation.”