Transplant Recipient Shows What it Means to Live Life Out Loud
Kidney Transplant Provides Inspiration to Sacramento WomanStart student organization and become community advocate. Check. Sing national anthem before thousands at Arco Arena. Check. Become honors student. Check. Audition for major reality show talent competition. Check. Ruth Welland, 38, has done more in the last few years than most of us have done in a lifetime. It's not that she is an overachiever but rather, she embraces life's opportunities. But it wasn't always this way.
Diagnosed with Type I diabetes when she was 12 years old, Ruth faced years of health problems that led to gallstones and several surgeries. By 2003, she had lost her vision, had neuropathy and was in a wheelchair. It was during a high-risk pregnancy that she learned her kidneys were failing and dialysis would be necessary. Future loss and heartache fueled Ruth's determination to come out on top. While in weekly dialysis, she attended a school for the blind to learn skills that would enable her to keep her independence. She enrolled in classes at Sacramento City College where she maintained decent grades, despite the extreme fatigue brought on by dialysis. She took violin lessons and continued to follow her passion: singing. Then, one late night in August 2008, she received "the call." A kidney match had been found! Ruth arrived at California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) the next morning to prep for her kidney-pancreas transplant. She had no idea how the surgery - which went without a hitch - would change her life for the better.
Shown singing in church, Ruth Welland, kidney-pancreas transplant recipient, lives by the motto "When your outlook is positive, your outcome is promising."
Transplant Surgery Helps Fulfill Dreams
"The surgery helped make everything I've ever dreamed suddenly seem possible," says Ruth. "I'm getting the opportunity to lead the life I've always imagined and am so grateful to everyone at CPMC."
The transplant gave Ruth newfound energy. She continued her classes at Sacramento City College, where she will graduate in Spring 2012 with honors. She started Voices of Hope, a student organization aimed at raising awareness of the challenges facing students with physical or mental disabilities. Through Voices of Hope, Ruth has organized campus and community events to create a more inclusive experience for students with disabilities.
Through it all, Ruth continues to sing. Her performance at the Sacramento City College staff convocation was so powerful it brought some to tears. Other highlights include singing the national anthem at Arco Arena to kick off a Monarchs basketball game, performing with the Coloma Strings Chamber Orchestra, and auditioning for the popular reality show America's Got Talent. Ruth's biggest challenge now is learning to slow down, which means skydiving may have to wait.
Living in the Moment
Ruth's post-transplant opportunities are by no coincidence a result of her new attitude. "We have to step outside of our comfort zone and stop being afraid. Things are often not as bad as we think they're going to be," says Ruth. "It's easy to get wrapped up in the physical and emotional pain while worrying about the future - we can't forget to live in the moment."
And while most musicians await an epiphany to create their magnum opus - their greatest work - Ruth Welland is living it by showing the rest of us what it means to live life to the fullest.