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Organ donation forges fast friendship

By: Laura Newell Telegraph staff writer
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Donating an organ not only saved a life, but forged a friendship between two local women. Several years ago Stacy Baade, 34, was diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome, a degenerative kidney disease. After her daughter was born, Baade started the hunt for a kidney donor as her kidney function was starting to deteriorate. Baade, an Orangevale resident, owns It’s A Grind Coffee House in Folsom. Her husband Eric is a Folsom Police officer and also began seeking help. “Sam Spiegel (retired Folsom police chief) sent out an e-mail to all law enforcement in California to ask if anyone could help,” Baade said. After receiving many responses, she chose Folsom resident Elizabeth Kelly, 50, who wanted to be a living kidney donor. “I was in law enforcement to help people and (people in) law enforcement have a tight camaraderie, so helping another officer’s family was a no brainier,” said Kelly, a retired Sheriff’s captain with Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department. The surgery was put on hold for two years as Baade’s kidney function had leveled, but eventually decreased more. While pregnant with their son, Baade was put onto dialysis five days a week and remained on dialysis after her pregnancy. Still, Kelly was ready to donate. “She is just amazing,” Baade said. “I’m so grateful to her.” In September of 2008, they had a successful kidney transplant. “I’ve been in the hospital a couple of times since, but I’ve pretty much gotten my life back,” Baade said. “I have energy again.” Eric was also amazed to see his wife’s improvement after the transplant. “Not only did her donor give Stacy her quality of life back, she inspired Stacy to become more athletic,” Eric said. “She has run several 5k and 10ks and eventually ran a full marathon.” Kelly also jumped back into action after the transplant. “The process of surgery itself was not difficult,” Kelly said. “I was a little sore, but after three weeks, I was back to normal and feeling good. Now, I’m doing the same things I was before surgery.” They have even pushed each other to run in marathons together. Kelly said one of the best things that came out of this transplant, besides saving Baade’s life, was their deep friendship the two women have developed. They are now training with an eight-person team to ride for Team Donate Life, a local non-profit group dedicated to increasing organ donation and awareness. They will ride in the Race Across America, a 3,000-mile public awareness bike race. Baade and Kelly will be the first donor and recipient team to ride together in the event’s history. “We want to show the importance of organ (and blood) donation,” Baade said. “I’m finding that people just don’t understand how easy the process is. So I want to show people how easy it is to do. It’s not gross or hard and you can save a life.” They will be holding their second Pasta Feed Fundraiser to support Team Donate Life from 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 25 at the Folsom Community Center, 52 Natoma St. in Folsom. Dinner will include pasta, salad, bread and drinks. “This is important because everyone knows someone who is in need of something by organ donation or blood donation,” Kelly said. “(People get) to see what good comes out of a transplant for both the donor and the recipient. We are both happy and healthy and able to live our everyday lives.” The event will include a no-host bar and raffle prizes. Tickets are $20 for adults (and $25 at the door) and $10 for children. Tickets are available at It’s A Grind Coffee House, 189 Blue Ravine Road in Folsom, or online at teamdonatelife.com.