VERSAILLES—Kimberly Hiegel underwent two transplants in 2011, thus celebrated her 11th anniversary on both occasions recently. The kidney transplant took place on Aug. 31 and the pancreas transplant Oct. 22.
“It is easier to do them one at a time,” she said.”My sister-in-law at the time, Kristi Rable of Celina, was the donor for the kidney, and the new pancreas came from a Georgia man who I was told was around my age.”
The transplants took place at IU Health in Indiana.
As for the pancreatic transplant, Kim was given an envelope in the hospital.
“I took it home and wrote a letter to the family,” she said. “You can’t divulge certain information when it goes to the organ bank. They never responded.”
Does she have any fears now?
“I try not to,” said Hiegel, who has been a diabetic since the age of 16. “I have tried to stay positive.”
What was going on with her when things started going awry?
“I had renal failure in early 2010. That’s when my kidneys were failing, and that’s when I looked into a kidney transplant. I was doing peritoneal dialysis at home in my 40s,” she said. “Another girl, Amy Lecklider Davis, in Greenville had the same diagnosis. I just got sick. Both of us ended up in the hospital. I think it was a virus.”
Now, her left kidney is on her right side and they transplanted the pancreas on her right side. The latter was the worst one to handle, she said.
“I stayed in the hospital for five days both times,” she said.
“When I was in renal failure, I had to go to Indianapolis one day a week for six weeks. Now I go every six months,” she said.
She first went to Ohio State University to get on their transplant list and then her aunt informed her about a gentleman who had his liver transplant in Indiana. Kim talked to Lois Thiesing and she said that he had a lot of good stuff to say about his experience at IU.
“They gave the information to me, and it was up to me if I wanted to do it,” she recalled. “Doctors told me, ‘If you can get a kidney, we can get the pancreas.”
She noted that her blood type is B positive, which is more rare. “It’s amazing that my sister-in-law and I actually matched,” said Hiegel, who goes to Celina once a month now to get blood work done.
It took her maybe three months to recover from that dual transplant.
“I am doing well today with no problems,” she said. “I try not to dwell on it.”
A 1984 graduate of Greenville High School, she grew up in Gettysburg, daughter of Norman and Judy (Subler) Warner.
She has three siblings, Jackie Seiber, Beth Martin and David Warner.
She marked her 56th birthday on April 16.
Hiegel, whose significant other is Tim Copeland, an Ansonia High School graduate, has three children, sons Danny Whittington and Paul Hiegel and a stepdaughter, Alexas Copeland.
“It’s been 11 years and now I have six grandkids, Jenna, Mitch, Emily and Claire Whittington and twins Waylon and Walker Hiegel,” she proudly stated.
Her family has supported her through this.
Yes, Hiegel has faced quite a few obstacles in her life, not to mention the juvenile diabetes and the troubles with her kidney and pancreas. She also became an amputee in 2007 after she fractured her ankle.
“I cried my first year with my prosthesis,” said Hiegel, who also has osteoporosis.
She hasn’t let her health issues ruin her life. She has worked most of her life.
She is currently working as a nurse at the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department. She began there in 2000.
“We’re always busy,” said Hiegel, who is the only nurse there. “I always have at least one officer with me, depending on the situation. We deal with some drug addiction and alcohol.”
Her company works for Team health, noted Hiegel, who for a short time once worked for the Darke County Sheriff’s Office.
She has worked in the medical industry for quite a few years. She received her training from Upper Valley Joint Vocational School and Ivy Tech in Richmond, Ind., but did not finish trying to get her registered nursing degree.
“I didn’t become a nurse until I was in my mid-30s,” she said.
Hiegel worked for Family Health’s WIC program in 1984 and remained there until 1989. She also worked for Dr. Charles Platt as a receptionist
“I did whatever they trained me to do,” she said.
She then went to work for Darke County Mental Health as a receptionist for about a year, and said she really loved that job.
She also worked for Bob Evans Restaurant when it first opened then went to nursing school, and that was followed by her working a stint at Wayne HealthCare in Greenville.
She has a lot to be thankful for.