CONNERSVILLE, Ind. – A mother of five in Connersville made a life-saving donation to an 8-year-old after the two met at Vacation Bible School.
“They asked all the kids what are your goals in life, and she was 8 at the time,” said Kari Woods. “When they asked her, she said she wanted to live to be 10.”
Kari was a volunteer in the summer of 2017, and learned the little girl, 8-year-old Abby Steinard, was suffering from kidney failure.
Abby was on dialysis for nine and a half hours every day.
“I kept feeling a voice tell me, ‘Give her your kidney,’ and I just kind of put it in the back of my mind,” Kari said. “And I kept hearing, ‘No, give her your kidney.’”
Kari then learned Abby has a rare blood type, so finding a donor was even harder.
“They said her blood type is O Negative, and I said well that’s my blood type, and I only need one kidney,” Kari said.
In December 2017, this mom of five and Abby, who had since turned 9-years-old, checked into St. Vincent Hospital for the surgery that saved Abby.
“She started to get her color back probably on the second day, and then the activity level, by the end of the hospital stay she was roaming around on the floor,” said Dr. Islam Ghoneim, who performed the surgery.
Dr. Ghoneim said Kari is healthy, and that helped her recovery.
Abby will take lifelong anti-rejection medication and has regular doctor visits.
Abby now says that when she grows up, she wants to be either a veterinarian or a zookeeper.
Until then, she gets a new stuffed animal at each doctor’s appointment.
“One is a regular tiger and then the other is a snow tiger,” Abby said of some of her favorites.
Abby’s mom says that Kari, who was a stranger and is now family, saved her daughter.
“No words, she gave my daughter her life back,” said Annette Steinard.
Abby is no longer on dialysis and plans to have fun with friends on the rest of her summer break.
“Hoping to have a water gun fight with my friend Brody,” she said.
It’s a notable change from this time last year.
“When I play with Brody or Faith and Jacob, I don’t run out of energy that much,” Abby said.
At their six-month check-up in July, Abby chose a lion for her new stuffed animal.
And there, Kari shared the news that she is expecting baby number six.
Dr. Ghoneim said that alone is a testament that donors go on to have normal lives after this life-saving surgery.
Kari started a Facebook group called ‘Hope for Kidneys’ to share more of her journey.
Click here to donate to the family's GoFundMe page to help with medical expenses.
The Indiana Donor Network reports, as of February 2018, 1,280 people are waiting on an organ transplant. Of those, 1,117 are waiting for a kidney.
Click here for more information about the St. Vincent Abdominal Transplant Program (Kidney & Pancreas).