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Green with Gratitude

Published on Wednesday April 3, 2024
Brenda Cobbs stands outside of LGH

This month, many of Centra’s facilities will be lit up green to commemorate DonateLife Month. Organ, eye and tissue transplants offer patients a new chance at healthy, productive and normal lives and return them to their families, friends and communities.

Over 100,000 people are currently waiting for lifesaving organ transplants and another person is added to the wait list every ten minutes. However, one Centra Caregiver was recently surprised when she was offered the opportunity to receive a new kidney and no longer be a part of this number. 

Brenda Cobbs is a Care Transitions Specialist on the Case Management Team. She works with patients and their families along with their providers and other Caregivers to facilitate discharges that are as smooth as possible. Having worked at Centra for ten years, her favorite part of her role is meeting new people and having the privilege of helping them. She also explained that she has a different level of empathy for those on dialysis and wants to be their biggest cheerleader because she recently walked down that path.

Brenda has had Systemic Lupus since she was 16. While she and her healthcare team were able to manage the autoimmune disease for many years, over time it began to affect her kidneys. The problem was heightened in November 2022 when getting COVID-19 caused fluid around her heart and her kidneys’ functioning drastically decreased. After having the fluid removed from around her heart through a pericardial window, Brenda began dialysis and a few months later joined the waitlist for a new kidney. 

To her complete surprise, three months after joining the waitlist, she received a phone call at 12:42 a.m. letting her know that she was eligible to receive a kidney transplant. After being instructed to travel to the hospital as soon as possible, Brenda immediately contacted her manager, Shavonne Fyfe and her Case Management Team letting them know that she was about to have surgery to receive a new kidney.

She described her entire Centra work family as supportive from the day she went in for the surgery through her recovery as they texted her thoughtful messages and sent her cards. However, what Brenda wasn’t prepared for was the extra special welcome that she received when she returned to work the week of February 5th. Shavonne had planned a special celebration to welcome Brenda back in addition to honoring the life of the donor who made her transplant possible. 

As part of the celebration, the exterior of Lynchburg General Hospital was lit up green to commemorate Brenda’s experience and the donor’s life. Additionally, Brenda received a surprise Tulip Award that she was nominated for after going above and beyond to coordinate the discharge care for one patient and their family. 

As she reflected on this challenging season and the hope that she was given through her new kidney, Brenda shared that if she could speak with her kidney donor she would, “thank them for the opportunity to live life,” going on to say, “I want to write a letter to the family, to thank them and let them know that I think of them often. I hope they’re okay with their family member’s decision to be a donor and I hope they know that a part of them is still around.”

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