A Kidney For Cathy Talmadge

2020 was bad for many Westporters.

It was even worse for Cathy Talmadge.

Five years ago, Cathy’s health started a mysterious decline. The avid swimmer, gardener, environmentalist, traveler, reader and cook could barely get out of bed, much less work in her gardens, walk her golden retriever Riley, or whip up dinner with husband Tom.

After many visits to medical specialists, Cathy was diagnosed with a rare form of sarcoidosis. The debilitating autoimmune disease ravaged her organs. Now in stage 4 kidney failure, she requires a live donor transplant as quickly as possible. 

Cathy Talmadge

Cathy — beloved by many for her work with Wakeman Town Farm, Earthplace. Sherwood Island State Park and the RTM — was put on donation lists around the country. Unfortunately, it could take years before a kidney became available.

She was told too that dialysis might wreak havoc on her body. She could become very sick — possibly unable to have a transplant.

Family members were tested, but none were a match.

A group of friends is now getting the word out. With the clock ticking, they’ve devised a no-holds-barred campaign. Today, longtime friend and colleague Christy Colasurdo and a team of local volunteers launch A Kidney for Cathy. They want everyone to know her story.

And they want everyone reading this to share it far and wide. Somewhere in the world, they know, a life-saving donor is waiting.

The idea for the campaign was born after Christy’s friend Kira Krieger Senders secured a living kidney donor for her father through a creative multimedia campaign.

Christy was also moved by the ALS Pepper Challenge closer to home. It spread the word about Westport icon Patty’s Habestroh’s condition, raised more than $650,000 for research, and received national media attention. 

Nearly two-thirds of all live kidney donors come from marketing campaigns on Facebook and other social media platforms. That’s the focus of this campaign. 

Organizers say, “Anyone can help the campaign go viral by following our  Facebook and Instagram pages, liking posts, and visiting the A Kidney for Cathy website to learn more about becoming a kidney donor.

“Sharing the online posts will spread the message far and wide. The viral power of social media can literally save Cathy’s life.” 

A quick, confidential survey assesses whether an individual might be a good candidate to donate.

While helping Cathy, the campaign will also shine a spotlight on the 114,927 patients currently on a kidney or liver transplant waiting list in the US.

Christy says. “A big part of this will be about educating the public. I was blown away to learn that Cathy can receive a kidney transplant from someone who is not a direct match. Cathy just needs a kind and healthy person to donate a kidney on her behalf.

“If not a match, that kidney goes to another recipient, which then enables the National Kidney Registry to put Cathy in the recipient pool to identify her perfect match. One donation inspired by Cathy will save two lives.”

Christy also learned that kidney transplants are now done laparoscopically, through a small navel incision. Donors typically spend only 2 or 3 nights in the hospital, followed by a quick return to full health and athletic pursuits.

“Donors overwhelmingly report that the most lasting effect is the good feeling they get from power of their gift. Most say that they would donate again in a heartbeat,” Christy adds.

A plea from Cathy Talmadge’s daughter.

Christy and other team members — including website designer (and Staples High School sophomore) James Dobin-Smith, graphic artist Miggs Burroughs, social media consultant Terri Piekara and Wakeman Town Farm co-chair Liz Milwe –ask everyone reading this to pass it along via their social networks. A toolkit on the website includes graphics to post or share

Questions about donating a kidney? Want to get more involved? Email  Akidney4cathy@gmail.com

14 responses to “A Kidney For Cathy Talmadge

  1. Tom Siebrasse

    Was fortunate to be a perfect match for my wife one year ago. Impact on me has been minimal aside from no more Advil for my aching back on the golf course. For my wife, literally a lifr saving event. Wish I had another one to give Cathy. She sounds like a wonderful person. Happy to share my experiences with anybody it would be relevant to.

  2. Cathy has done so much for our Town. We are so lucky to have her as part of our community. We love you Cathy.

  3. Cathy has been my best friend for too many years to count. Our families moved to Westport together over 30 years ago in a corporate transfer. Over the past several years, it’s been painful to watch Cathy’s health decline so precipitously and to see this vivacious, athletic and energetic woman barely able to function on her “bad days.” It breaks my heart. Unfortunately, I am not a candidate to donate a kidney, but I pray some kind, generous soul will do so and save my best friend’s life. Cathy would give a stranger the shirt off her back or a stray kitten a home. Please consider donating a kidney for her. And please, please – join this campaign and spread the word about A Kidney for Cathy on your social media. Thank you! ❤️

  4. Cathy is always the first one to offer to help, and her commitment and dedication to Westport causes has done so much good. Now it’s time for Westporters to do something for Cathy. Spread the word!!

  5. Carolyn Talmadge

    Thank you, Dan, for helping spread the word! Cathy is a fantastic and loving Mom. Truly selfless and we so appreciate all the help everyone’s warm wishes and willingness to help! Thank you Westport!

  6. Twelve years ago this Friday, I gave a kidney to my husband who is going strong. I would never hesitate to do it again if I could. Not everyone has the temperment to donate a kidney but truly, it’s not difficult to go through: you get a phenomenal health check AND save a life: be a hero. Paired donations are also a way to donate a kidney if you are not a candidate for your loved one. Debbie Wilson Hoult, class of ’73.

  7. What a great chance to have an impact on someone else’s life — and when that person is a close friend, even better. Cathy’s been a mentor and friend and a delight to work with at Wakeman Town Farm. I know our community can come together and find the perfect match, and give Cathy and her family the gift of a lifetime.

  8. My husband Doug also suffers from Sarcoidosis. Wishing Cathy a speedy recovery.

  9. Jennifer & John Montoni

    Always kind, always smiling…we are lucky to know & work with Cathy! She truly inspires us! Thank you Dan for sharing Cathy’s story!

  10. There are only but a few individuals that fall into the category of a completely selfless human being and Cathy Talmadge is surely one of them. All you need to do is look at her life story. It is my deepest hope that this campaign reaches far and wide and gives Cathy back what she truly deserves.

  11. I have gotten to know Cathy at Wakeman Town Farm. She is so generous of her time and always with a smile on her face. Cathy is one of those rare gems, so let’s keep her sparkle going. Please help spread the word to find a match.

  12. We all LOVE Cathy and know our community will do whatever we can to help her find a donor – that is the beauty of where we live and hope her generosity will be matched…

  13. Wendy Goldwyn Batteau

    Cathy Talmadge is one of the most giving people I know. You have probably benefited from her kindness and generous work even if you don’t know it. Please help find a match! It will be a life-gift to her and to all.

  14. Cathy is on the Board and has done so much too for the beautiful CT Sherwood Island State Park located here in Westport and I have shared Dan’s blog with Board Members residing beyond 06880 to encourage them to help spread the word as to Cathy’s urgent need.