AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) — One person donated a kidney. The other returned a world championship.
It was life-defining exchange.
Sara Millard’s life.
Two years ago, she was nearing the end of her rope, having been born severely ill and struggling with health issues throughout her childhood. Her first surgery was at six weeks of age. Her first heart attack in kindergarten.
More difficulties as an adult, including seizures triggered by dialysis, and awaiting her second kidney transplant.
The first transplant, with her father’s, had failed.
She received the phone call in March of 2017 and went in for the 152nd surgery of her life.
It worked, thanks to UCHealth’s team, but also because a stranger passed away. That’s a fact she has not forgotten.
“I was able to get back to an active lifestyle,” Millard told CBS4. “All I could think of was my donor.”
Thursday, Millard presented one of her symbols of that active lifestyle – a world championship belt buckle – to the family of her donor.
“The day I won, that’s what I knew I wanted to do with it,” Millard said. “They deserve that one more than I do.”
The belt buckle, from her fourth title in a sport called cart shooting, is a symbol of the new quality of life granted to her by the donor’s kidney.
“My surgeons have been encouraging me to do things I couldn’t do as a child,” she said.
Cart shooting involves firing a handgun at targets with one hand, and reining a horse with the other, while seated in a two-wheeled carriage.
Millard has decided to take time off from cart shooting to pursue a professional career. She expects to graduate a year from now with a Masters degree in Pastoral Care.
She’s up to 170 surgeries now. But, luckily, she says none have been as big as that 2017 transplant.
Nor as life-defining.
April is Donate Life Month in Colorado.