Kristy Carter battles back from organ failure

Sandra ClarkGet Up & Go, Halls

Kristy Cooper Carter walked a mile and a half on Tuesday. For some that’s not a big deal. But for Carter it was a miracle.


She celebrated on Facebook with an amazing story that she gave us permission to share with Knox TN Today readers.

“Approximately five years ago, I was told by doctors I had about three months to live,” she began. She needed an organ transplant – a problem compounded by a rare blood type and other organs that were stressed.

She spent about eight months in hospitals in Knoxville and Nashville. “Medications and amazing specialists’ care kept my body going somehow. The pain was a constant as it affected my heart, kidneys, gall bladder, spleen, digestion, mind, bones, muscles, lungs, etc.

“The lungs were a constant problem as they filled with fluid to the point I could no longer breathe.”

Pain medication was rare as it further damaged her organs.

She was moved to the top of the transplant wait list. (This story should motivate all of us to become organ donors.)

The pain and uncertainty played mind games. Lying in the hospital, waiting for a donor match was stressful. Kristy wrote: “I waited and was ready to accept my destiny. … Then a doctor came in to measure me. He explained they had an organ match, but it was too large for my body.”

Her organs weakened. She cried when she heard the hospital’s helicopter land. “I cried because I knew someone was badly hurt or that it was an organ. It sounds crazy, but I didn’t want to live at another’s expense.”

On a Friday, she got so close to death that the hospital “sent me home to die with my family.” She survived the night and the next day. She remembers lying in bed on Saturday night saying what she believed was her last prayer. “I was completely ready to meet my maker and even felt relief, joy and peace.”

She was awakened by a phone ringing. Her daughter came screaming through the door saying, “You have an organ!” The next thing she remembers is her son, Donnie, carrying her to the car where her dad, Leo Cooper, waited.

Everything was a blur – a fast-moving blur. She got the transplant and stayed in a medically-induced coma for several days. Convalescence was lengthy with several surgeries to correct complications. She’s got lifelong medications, a compromised immune system and other issues. “But I’m alive.”

Kristy said there’s not a day she doesn’t think about her donor and family. She’s had good days and great days and some dark days during her recovery. But Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020, was a great day for accomplishments. Kristy Cooper Carter walked 1.5 miles.

“Not quite the days I played tennis in 100-degree weather for hours, but I’ll take today and try again tomorrow.

“I’ve learned the human body is stronger than we know, but the human spirit is even greater. I’m not finished and can’t wait to see what He has planned for me; may it be small or big, it’s mine alone and I’m ready and able with Him.”

She’s shared deeply personal information in the hope that it will help someone. “Whatever my days ahead, I can face them with strength in spirit and hopefully body. It looks promising!”

Kristy Carter is a teacher with degrees from Carson-Newman University. She has two children, Casey and Donnie, and two grandchildren, Briley and Leah. She is the daughter of Leo and JoAnn Cooper of Brown Gap Road in Halls. Both of her parents were educators for Knox County Schools, and Leo represented the Halls-Fountain City area on Knox County Commission including a stint as commission chair.

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