CSU Cheerleader Helps Teammate Get Kidney Transplant

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Teamamtes are supposed to be there to help each other. One former Columbus State cheerleader went above and beyond to help for her former CSU teammate.
Katie Birkhead and Chelsie Horton were cheered on the Cougars and became very close. In 2018, Horton was told by her doctor that she needed a kidney transplant.
Horton has dealt with Familial Juvenile Nephronophthisis, a childhood genetic kidney disease that causes a symmetrical destruction of the kidneys, since she was 2 years old. Despite that hurdle she lived a very active lifestyle but now she needed help.

This past May, Chelsie found a match for a transplant but what’s crazy it was in large part to her former teammate Katie. Birkhead wanted to help Chelsie any way she could but couldn’t donate her kidney directly to her former teammate.
That’s when Katie signed up for the paired organ donation program. Katie will now donate her kidney to someone else and that led to a chain of events that allowed Chelsie to get the kidney she needed.
Chelsie says this is most genuine form of love she’s felt from her close friend and former CSU teammate.

“I can’t think of a better way to show the love that you have for someone than to do this. Even though she couldn’t do it for me directly. She immediately said I know that I can’t give to you but what can I do? And at that point I did know about the paired exchange program and I offered it up to her. She said if that can help you and it can make you have a faster process then I’m in. I’m all in. I could not ask for a better friend,” said Horton.

Katie is a huge advocate for organ donation. Her influence came from her late father. While he passed away he was an organ donor and was able to help so many families through that generous act. That’s a big reason why Katie was so wiling do this for Chelsei. They were close before but now they’re going to share a special bond for the rest of their lives.

“We’re definitely a family through and through from the beginning, but this is an extra special bond that we get to share. I’m so glad that we share. I’m so glad that I get to share this with her and the rest of our friends. This is going to be a thing that’s going to bond all of us together,” said Horton.

Chelsie and Katie will have their transplant on May 29th in Peidmont Hospital in Atlanta.

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