Woman donates kidney, saves best friend’s life

Tammy Hollingsworth, transplant recipient; and Carolyn Brown, transplant donor

Tammy Hollingsworth and Carolyn Brown have been best friends for nearly 25 years, but a life-saving medical procedure brought them together for life.

Hollingsworth was an active mother of two when her kidneys began failing in 2002. When doctors at Augusta University Health discovered she had stage four Chronic Kidney Disease, Hollingsworth said she was shocked by the diagnosis since she was not experiencing any symptoms.

“I never showed any signs of being sick until after the birth of my second child, and I was amazed to know it was kidney disease since this illness doesn’t run in my family,” Hollingsworth said. “Although I was taken aback by the results, I’m so glad we caught the problem before things got worse.”

Of course, Brown was one of the first people Hollingsworth told about her diagnosis and despite her health challenges, Hollingsworth went on for years with life as usual.

Brown, a clinical sepsis coordinator in Wilmington, North Carolina, checked on Hollingsworth often, making sure she took her medications, kept her medical appointments and shared updates on her lab results.

“Not only am I a health professional, but I’m Tammy’s friend and I wanted to make sure she stayed healthy,” Brown said.

As Hollingsworth’s condition worsened, doctors at AU Health’s Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program recommended considering a kidney transplant. Unfortunately, Hollingsworth’s family was not able to donate, but Brown quickly got tested at a medical center in North Carolina and discovered she was a match.

“I always told Tammy I would give her my kidney if she needed one, but I think she may have thought I was joking whenever I would say that,” Brown said. “I was so excited to know I was a match and was happy to make good on my promise.”

Hollingsworth added her thoughts.

“John 15:13 states ‘no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends,’ and words can’t express how grateful I am that my friend gave me the ultimate gift of donating her kidney to me,” said Hollingsworth. “I’m so blessed to have this friendship and I will cherish our sisterhood forever.”

This December marks four years since the procedure was performed at AU Health and both friends are showing no signs of slowing down. Hollingsworth’s health continues to improve and Brown is back to running. The friends also both volunteer each year at North Carolina-based Mountain Top Youth Camp, where Brown serves as the camp nurse and Hollingsworth is the director.

About AU Health’s Transplant Program

Augusta University Health is home to the 14,000-square-foot Carlos and Marguerite Mason Solid Organ Transplant Center, and over 2,600 lifesaving kidney and pancreas transplants have been performed at the medical center since 1968. AU Health is one of 19 hospitals in the United States and the only medical center in Georgia, to be selected to take part in the initial Collaborative Innovation and Improvement Network that aims to improve kidney transplantation nationwide. AU Health is also a two-time national Kidney Transplant Center of Excellence.

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Written by
Danielle Harris

Danielle Harris is Senior Media Relations Coordinator at Augusta University. Contact her to schedule an interview on this topic or with one of our experts at 706-721-7511 or deharris1@augusta.edu.

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Written by Danielle Harris

Jagwire is your source for news and stories from Augusta University. Daily updates highlight the many ways students, faculty, staff, researchers and clinicians "bring their A games" in classrooms and clinics on four campuses in Augusta and locations across the state of Georgia.

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