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Healthy Lifestyle Important After Organ Transplant

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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - A woman in Fort Worth is helping to spread the word about healthy living after an organ transplant.

Karen Goldthwaithe swims four times a week at the Carter Rehab Center at Baylor All Saints Medical Center. Five years ago, she felt like a fish out of water. After being active her whole life, she was dragging herself out of bed every day, sick from renal failure. She received a kidney transplant. Now, she feels like a totally different woman. “They say it’s a whole new life,” Goldthwaithe said. “It absolutely is.”

Goldthwaithe now lives her life as a tribute to her kidney donor. “I owed it to them to take the very best care of my kidney I possibly could, so that it would sustain me in my life,” she said. “So, I swam in honor of the lady who lost her life, and to protect my new life.”

Dr. Nicholas Onaca is the hospital’s director of kidney transplant. While high blood pressure and added weight can threaten a transplant, moderate workouts and a few modifications to the office are always beneficial. He recommends sitting on an exercise ball instead of a chair. “The exercise ball has the benefit of eliminating pressure points, which we all have when sitting in our chairs,” he explained.

Dr. Onaca said that it is important to strengthen the core, but do not go too far. “Swimming is great because it is a whole-body exercise,” he said.

“I want my transplant to last as long as it can,” Goldthwaithe said. Her goal is to drop 50 pounds and keep the weight off for good. “By exercising to get the excess weight off, it will protect my kidney. It will help in the long run. It makes you happier, too!”

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