Hello, I am Sara Millard 3 time SASS Pioneer Cart Shooting World Champion, Colorado Native, and 2 time Kidney Transplant Recipient. I was diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease within 1 week of my birth in December of 1985. My first surgery was at 6 weeks old. Since then, I have had 152 surgeries at 31 years old.
From a very young age I was an ambitious child that didn’t want to ever start Kidney Dialysis, but unfortunately, by the time I was 14 years old and just starting High School in September 2000, I was told that it was no longer reasonable to manage this disease with just medication and I started my dialysis journey through Children’s Hospital of Denver, CO. Just months after starting dialysis my Father decided to get tested. He was my 1st Match!!
At 16 years old, on June 19, 2002 we did the Living Donor Kidney Transplant with Dr. Bak from University of Colorado Hospital taking my dad’s Kidney out and Dr. Fritz Karrer of Children’s Hospital putting that amazing Kidney in me. I became just a regular teenage girl and I wanted to everything that I possibly could do! Sadly, I contracted Urospesis that was risking the life of my transplanted kidney, and they had to remove it immediately.
On October 30, 2003, I was put back on dialysis at 17 years old, I was absolutely devastated! My dreams of graduating from High School were starting to look almost impossible. Luckily, I was able to finish High School and graduate May 27, 2004, from Northglenn High School in Northglenn, CO.
I went off to Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, CO where I pursued training in the Medical Field, originally starting with Nursing and soon found a passion for Emergency Medicine. I trained to be and EMT-B. I was so close to having my state Certification until during the physical part of the test my dialysis access ruptured. Once again heartbroken, I saw my future dwindling down. I ended up attempting to finish some form of higher education a total of 7 times, but each attempt was met with my kidney disease and dialysis getting in the way of that dream.
In May of 2006, my parathyroid glands had to be removed in my neck. Once again met with disappointment when the surgery was less than completely successful, in September of 2006, I once again went under the knife to fix the problem ending with tragedy in my eyes. Due to complications, they had to do an emergency tracheostomy. I was met with the difficulty of Hypocalcemia seizures.
On February 14, 2007, my left native kidney had become so scared and atrophied, that it had to be removed just 1 month after my trach was permanently removed. This was the start of my journey to find another Kidney Donor. This process was long and unbelievably painful. During my search, I was still on Hemodialysis for anywhere from 3-5 hours of dialysis at a minimum of 3 days a week. I was in the hospital sometimes more times than out. I was having several surgeries as well.
In January of 2009, I had a heart attack. From out of nowhere, my heart couldn’t handle the low and high Potassium levels that comes with dialysis and CKD. I had to get an internal pacemaker/defibrillator. Due to the high stress and complications of having the device placed, I ended up having 3 TIA or petite strokes. Dialysis didn’t help this situation much, as the blood pressure would fall to unmanageable levels.
By September 2010, I was placed on the ACTIVE Kidney Transplant Waiting list. I was excited that I might get another chance at life. Unfortunately, for the next several years I would be listed on a HOLD status due to several surgeries and dialysis complications.
In June 2013, I went on to WIN my first PIONEER CART WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP with stitches in my arm from having my dialysis access revised just days before the competition started. Unfortunately, in June of 2014, I had to have my Gallbladder removed and was unable to attend the competition due to more complications. In June 2015, I was able to comeback just 1 month after having a dialysis catheter placed in my chest to WIN for the 2nd time.
April 2016, I was put back on HOLD status due to Endocarditis caused by my Implantable Device, as well as my current Dialysis Catheter. I was in the hospital for about 1 Month and had to continue IV antibiotics for about 1 Month.
June 2016, just 3 weeks after finishing my round of antibiotics and 2 days after another Catheter placement, I went on to WIN my 3rd PIONEER CART WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP!
In September 2016, I participated in the Kidney Walk in Denver, but just days later I would be told that Kidney Transplant was not looking possible. My Antibodies were at 100%. Devastated, I decided I would try to continue dialysis as long as I could physically and mentally.
On December 21, 2016, on my 31st birthday, I was told that I might still have a chance if I could get cleared by Urology and GI. I saw every doctor that I could getting cleared each step of the way.
January 2017, I was FINALLY listed as ACTIVE status on the List! My Nephrologist Dr. Albright, said, “just wait, you’ll get more calls than you could possibly handle.” I thought to myself yeah right!
On February 27, 2017, I received a call for a kidney. They told me that they still had a lot of testing to do and that they would call back once they new if it was going to work out. I was so excited, yet so nervous that I couldn’t sleep. I called them back since I had to be at dialysis in about an hour. They told me to go since it could still be a little while. I was on the machine when I got the devastating news that I wasn’t going to be able to get the kidney. Luckily, my nephrologist was making rounds that day. He told me how often that it happens. I felt slightly better.
On March 16, 2017, during Kidney Disease Awareness month, and 1 week after World Kidney Day, I got the call for my amazing MYSTERY KIDNEY!!!
Even though this journey has been somewhat of a challenge, in the end, my transplant surgeon, Dr. Nydam said it best, “Don’t give up now, it will be worth it in the end.” For the first time in my life, I was able to see my surgeon about 2 months after I got the Mystery Kidney and tell him that it meant so much to me that he wouldn’t let me give up or give in, but encourage me to GIVE IT MY ALL!
I am just shy of 3 months post- kidney transplant, and I have been cleared to compete in the 2017 SASS Pioneer Cart Shooting World Championship in just 2 weeks. I will be there proudly wearing my DONATE LIFE RECIPIENT lapel pin!
aka Colorado Cupcake