A second chance at life: How a selfless organ donor saved this young mom's life


by Baylor Scott & White Health

Apr 5, 2024

After passing her nurse practitioner boards with high marks and welcoming her second child to the world in June of 2020, Katie Blalock had a lot to celebrate. But just a month later, she woke up confused in a hospital bed with several tubes in her body. Her nurse told her she’d had a liver transplant.

What began as a common infection turned into her family’s worst nightmare. Thanks to the selfless choice of a stranger to become an organ donor, Katie is alive and well today.

A miraculous match

After feeding her newborn son, Katie developed mastitis, an infection of the breast tissue commonly caused by breastfeeding. She was prescribed an antibiotic that normally clears the infection quickly, but in her rare case, it caused a drug-induced liver injury and eventually, liver failure.

“This whole time my concern is for my husband and my kids,” Katie said.

Katie’s care team at Baylor Scott & White All Saints Medical Center – Fort Worth told her family that she would need a complete liver transplant. Her once-healthy liver was now 70% necrose, or dead. She had just 12-24 hours left to live.

At the 15-hour mark, Katie’s husband received a remarkable phone call. They had a match—a donor liver was compatible with her body.

A stranger’s decision to become an organ donor saved her life. Now, Katie encourages everyone to check that box when they renew their driver’s licenses because you never know what might happen.

Katie had no pre-existing conditions and did not expect to be on the receiving end of a transplant.

“When I think about the transplant list, I think of people who are chronically ill,” she said. “I really had never thought that it could be so acute.”

A newfound passion for patient care

As a nurse practitioner, Katie is no stranger to the healthcare setting. However, being a patient was a new kind of vulnerability that shapes how she relates to her patients now.

“I tell this to every single patient: all I want is that you are as well taken care of as you can be,” Katie said. “What is the point of being a nurse practitioner if I’m not going to do that due justice, right? And I think that really stemmed from how well taken care of I was by the entire transplant team. I shouldn’t even be here today.”

Her care team at Baylor Scott & White All Saints Medical Center – Fort Worth made her feel comfortable during the transplant recovery process, she said. Since she had her transplant while COVID-19 visitor restrictions were in place, Katie relied on her nurses for support when her husband couldn’t be there.

When one of her nurses was about to go home for the day, Katie remembers crying in the nurse’s arms because she didn’t want her to go home.

“She asked if she could give me a hug, and she hugged me and I hugged her and she told me that it was going to be okay and that she was going to be back in the morning,” Katie said. “And

I’m like 35 years old, acting like a two-year-old. But the nurses just supported me so much.”

According to Donate Life Texas, 17 people die every day because the organ they need is not donated in time. Katie said she shares her story to encourage more people to sign up to be organ donors. She is now healthy and enjoying her second chance at life with her husband and two children, thanks to her donor’s generous decision to become an organ donor.

You, too, could save a life. Become an organ donor today at Donate Life Texas, or by registering when you renew your driver’s license.

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