Maryville family hopes to inspire others to become organ donors

Local News

Life is being celebrated all this month, specifically the lives of those who’ve been saved because of an organ transplant and those who’ve donated. It’s National Donate Life month and the Norris family is waiting on that kind of gift.

Kathryn Norris is currently on the waiting list at Duke for a double lung and liver transplant. She was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis as a baby.

More: Maryville College senior soon leaving for Duke for double lung and liver transplant

Every day is a little different but for six months now Norris has been focused on her rehab. 

“The main goal is to have a balance of being as healthy as you can be physically but also being sick enough to where you need a transplant,” she said.

Since October the family has been living close by to the North Carolina hospital. Their goal is a simple one, for Kathryn to breathe.

“I got listed actually earlier than expected, November 1, and I’ve just been waiting since then,” she said.

There’s little to control and it’s challenging because Kathryn is on two organ donation lists, one for her lungs and the other for her liver. It may take time because doctors have told her all the different variables must be there for the perfect match.

The journey hasn’t been an easy one. Kathryn says she was relatively healthy this winter but is currently in the hospital with a cold, “I’m feeling much better without the fevers I feel much better.”

Kathryn was admitted several weeks ago under much scarier circumstances.

“They did tests and found out I had a punctured lung. So the air from the lung was leaking throughout the chest cavity,” she said.

Her most recent stay at the hospital has put her on the transplant floor. Kathryn says it’s been both inspiring and a reminder of what this month is all about. 

“It’s such a selfless gift that somebody could give, give the gift of life,” she said.

The Norris family is hoping their story inspires others to become an organ donor, giving someone a future.

“I want to do so many things. I have a bucket list,” said Kathryn.

Even though her name has been on the waiting list for months, Kathryn says she’s ready, “With CF patients, you feel the relief of breathing better as you wake up. I know I’ll be half sedated for that moment but I’m kind of excited to experience that.”

Lifelong friends, who’ve also received organ donations, have been sharing uplifting quotes while this family waits.

“Don’t take your organs to heaven. Heaven knows you won’t need them there,” added Kathryn.

The Norris family tells us the surgery will likely cost about $1.4 million and over the last few months they’ve been working with insurance.

To register to become an organ donor, visit your local motor vehicle department or go to https://organdonor.gov/register.html

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