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Katelyn’s Story: From Desperation to Gratitude

Katelyn Photo

On May 9, 2022, Katelyn Lambert received the most important call of her life.

“Everything stopped at that moment,” said Lambert, who had been waiting 98 days for an intestinal transplant. “My husband Matthew and I just stared at one another. We talked all the time about what we would do once we received the call, but in that moment, all we could do was begin to cry and just thank God for allowing the call to finally come.”

Since her early 20s, Lambert battled gastroparesis, a condition affecting the stomach muscles that prevents proper stomach emptying. By the time she was 28, she’d received 22 surgeries. Eventually, she found herself on the transplant list.

I became an organ donor at age 16, but I fully never grasped just what it all meant,” said Lambert. “It truly was the greatest ‘yes’ I’ve ever made! Little did I know, I myself would need a life-saving transplant.”

Prior to receiving the call, Lambert’s dream was simple: to share a meal with her husband and family after years of not being able to tolerate food or drink by mouth. On May 10, a selfless donor made that dream possible. 

“As I was wheeled to the operating room, everyone hugged me, clapped, jumped, and told me I deserved this,” recalled Lambert. “I was crying of course. I felt like I deserve something, but not someone else’s life. How do you know how to feel in this situation? My life is being saved by a stranger. I’ve always been a donor and I know I would have wanted this route for myself. But with it all happening so fast, it was hard to decipher emotions.”

Following the transplant, Lambert experienced multiple admissions and rejection. 

“Treatments had to be used to decrease my antibodies that were trying to fight off my new friend,” said Lambert. “Convulsions, flush outs, vomiting, migraines, you name it. Transplantation is not easy. But losing a loved one is not easy, either.”

On July 18, 2023, Lambert wrote a letter to her donor’s mother and father and received a letter in return.

“I can truly say opening and reading those letters was the hardest thing I have ever had to do,” said Lambert. “To learn more about my donor was just so special to me, and even more special when the mother sent me photos of her precious son, who was my donor. He was able to donate to seven people!”

Today, Lambert enjoys meals with her family and friends and lives life to the fullest. To her donor, she leaves the following message:

Thank you for being my donor. Thank you for being just like me, and me like you. Thank you for being O-positive. Thank you for checking the box. Thank you for giving what you could have taken with you, which was exactly what I needed. I am positive that one day we will meet again. Until then, thank you.

More than 100,000 people are waiting for lifesaving organ transplants. Together, we can save lives. Register your decision here: