Walmart kidney photo

Smithfield Township Walmart employees Cathy Green, left, and Dawn Kurtz discuss the kidney transplant procedure they are scheduled to undergo tomorrow, Tuesday, Feb. 18. Green has offered to donate her kidney to Kurtz, who suffers from IgA nephropathy, a disease that lessens a kidney’s ability to function over time.

A Huntingdon woman will soon be the recipient of a life-changing gift: a new kidney, courtesy of an incredibly generous coworker.

Dawn Kurtz of Huntingdon, a customer service supervisor at Walmart in Smithfield Township, was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy in 2006. The disease lessens a kidney’s ability to function over time.

“IgA nephropathy is a progressive kidney disease, and I was stage 3 back then,” Kurtz said. “I was told that, in 12 to 15 years, I would need to do dialysis and, eventually, a transplant.”

After being hired at Walmart in 2011, Kurtz told several of her coworkers about her condition. In late 2018, Kurtz’s coworker Cathy Green, also of Huntingdon, overheard her talking about her condition.

“I told a few people I was looking at dialysis and a kidney transplant in the future,” Kurtz said. “I was in the back talking one day, and Cathy overheard me.”

Prior to this interaction, Kurtz had known Green for several years, but she had no idea what she was about to propose.

“Cathy and I had known each other from working together for four or five years,” Kurtz said. “And when she overheard me, she said, ‘Well, I’ll donate a kidney.’”

Green began making plans immediately for a potential transplant.

“I went home and spoke to my husband,” Green said. “I wanted to make sure Dawn and I were on the same insurance. That way, they’ll have all of our records. I’m so glad I did that.”

The conversation picked up again last November. At that point, Green was able to get in contact with the kidney transplant coordinator.

“I went to Pittsburgh Jan. 6-8 and went through all the tests,” Green said. “It’s very intensive. They wanted to make sure my kidney was good for her, and that my body could handle the procedure.”

Despite matching blood types, Kurtz said there was still a chance they wouldn’t match.

“We’re the same blood type. We’re both A positive,” Kurtz said. “But we were told there was still a 64% chance that we would not match. But Cathy said, ‘Well, I’m still doing this.’”

One week later, Jan, 16, Green received the call: it was a match, and the procedure could move forward.

“I received the call, and I’ll never forget it,” Green said. “I was told it was a match, and I called Dawn. We cried together.”

News of Green’s good deed spread quickly across social media, spurring the positivity of the Huntingdon County community.

The women’s coworkers even hosted a fundraiser to help pay for their expenses.

“Our coworkers did a potluck and donated money to us,” Green said. “They raised just over $800, which just about paid for our stay out there…They are very precious to us. It’s all been just a miracle.”

The procedure is set to occur tomorrow, Tuesday, Feb. 18, and both Kurtz and Green are expected to return home around five days later.

In the meantime, Kurtz and Green continue to reflect on the close relationship they have built over the last year.

“Neither of us grew up with sisters, but we’re definitely sisters now,” Kurtz said. “Cathy is a very special person who has helped so many people before. She’s an angel.”

“I’m very blessed and thankful that I could do this to help Dawn,” Green said. “The Lord has been good to us both. Dawn and I will only get closer.”

Joshua can be reached at jblattenberger@huntingdondailynews.com.

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