Aveda Artists always inspire us with the ways in which they give back and go above and beyond. Aveda Artist Katelyn Lower from First Impressions salon in Fort Wayne, Indiana is one of these amazing generous spirits. Katelyn gave one of the most precious gifts one can give when she donated a kidney to her father one year ago this month.
Living with a rare kidney disease called IGA Nephropathy, Katelyn’s father Kevin received his first kidney transplant 10 years ago when Katelyn was a child. With the organ’s life prognosis of 12-22 years, Kevin was hopeful that he would not need another transplant anytime soon. However, in 2016 he learned he was due for a replacement.
“My father means the world to me and there was no question that I was going to be the second donor, and was waiting for the day to donate if he needed it,” Katelyn recalls. “I told him right away that he could count on my kidney to save him.”
After rigorous tests confirmed their compatibility, Katelyn and her father went through surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
“Waking up next to my dad and knowing he had my healthy kidney inside of him to keep him alive was one of the happiest moments of my life,” Katelyn says.
KATELYN AND HER FATHER KEVIN
Recovering in Style
With advancements in medicine, Kevin’s new kidney is expected to last him 20 to 30 years. But first it was time for recovery —and what happened was magical.
Kevin and Katelyn moved to “the Gift of Life Transplant House,” which provides an affordable home away from home for individuals recovering from and waiting for transplant surgeries. It was here that Katelyn began using her talents as an Aveda Artist to bring joy to other residents.
“I wasn’t able to do much during my two-week recovery, but one thing I could do was what comes naturally to me — cut and style hair and hopefully brighten someone’s day through this work,” Katelyn says.
“Many of the patients had been there for so long and hadn’t had a cut or style, or a simple neck or hand massage, in ages. Touch is powerful, and it feels good to be pampered. It just seemed natural that I would offer these simple services for others.”
Living the Mission
It’s obvious that Katelyn lives and breathes the Aveda Mission, and while this experience was a year ago, it’s a part of who she is today.
“I was with a client recently and she shared that her mother was in need of a kidney. I was so happy to be there for her in that moment. I knew exactly what she was feeling and sharing my thoughts and personal experiences with her meant the world to me. She was meant to be in my chair.”
Katelyn educates anyone she can on the power of donation. “It’s life or death for people in need of new organs. Some of the people I met at the Gift of Life Transplant House were literally just waiting for a new heart, kidney or liver,” Katelyn says. “By checking the donor box on your license, you are choosing to save lives. Why not do that?”
Every day Aveda Artists and salons across the world engage in charitable acts of compassion and kindness. Through #BeautyHeals, we celebrate the people behind these stories.
If you are an Aveda Artist and have your own volunteering story to share, please do so using #BeautyHeals. By sharing and celebrating these stories, we’re paving the way for others to also give back— because passion begets passion.
SPREAD THE WORD, BE A PART OF THE CHANGE