WDAY: The News Leader

Published July 29, 2012, 10:07 PM

Beautiful Women: Two heroes give gift of life to Glyndon woman

GLYNDON, Minn. (WDAY TV) - It's the greatest gift you can give: the gift of life.

By: Kerstin Kealy, WDAY Staff Reports, WDAY

GLYNDON, Minn. (WDAY TV) - It's the greatest gift you can give: the gift of life.

For a Glyndon woman, organ donation has changed her life…twice over.

Kerstin Kealy introduces us to Forum Communications next Beautiful Woman.

In every fiber of her being, Kristi Fabre represents the beauty of optimism.

Our beautiful woman team had a chance to meet her at her Glyndon home. Kidney failure has plagued her from childhood, but you wouldn't know it. She has managed to stay strong and positive, sharing her story to inspire others.

It's a story that starts on the picturesque prairies of Clay County. A farmer's daughter growing up like any other child.

Kristi Fabre celebrated the first day of kindergarten, birthdays and holidays, and family vacations.

It was summer when everything changed. Kristi was just six years old.

Kristi Fabre: “I was sick. They thought I had the flu. I went to the ER. They checked it out and said take her home and rest.”

Her mother's instinct knew better, and doctors later confirmed it.

Kristi: “So they brought me back in and diagnosed me right away with stage five kidney failure, end stage renal disease. They said I developed ecoli poisoning somehow.”

Despite the diagnosis, Kristi remained active in softball, dance and gymnastics, and always with a smile on her face.

Kristi: “It's who I am. It's who I've always been. I've been a healthy sick I guess if you want to call it. I don't know anything else.”

Never wanting anyone to pity her, most never knew the struggles she faced.

Kristi: “You'd go to school, you'd have dialysis after school.”

After four years of blood work, dialysis and medication came a life changing gift. Her father donated his kidney to his daughter.

Kristi: “I just thank him every day, and that was actually 18 years ago last week that I received his kidney.”

It gave Kristi a new chance at a normal life, filled with more snapshots of cherished memories along the way.

Fast forward 18 years. A routine visit to the mayo clinic in Rochester with her high school sweetheart, and now husband, brought the news they knew would come someday but they hoped never to hear.

Kristi: “We all knew that this kidney wouldn't last my entire life. It's just the way it works. My mother called me that day and she said ‘how are things going? Are you on your way home?’ And I just started to cry. And she knew, I never actually told her that we were on the second journey of the transplant, but she knew.”

Her family was tested but for various reasons couldn't be donors. It was her husband who she'd known nearly her whole life, who secretly called for a test and ended up being the match that again would change her life.

Ryan Fabre: “She's gone through two transplants and not in the best health and her body is kind of falling apart with all of the drugs (a little bit) and she's up here all the time. She doesn't get down very often.”

Kristi: “For a guy that has never had surgery, never had any stitches, no broken bones, I was just shocked. I know he's my husband and I never thought he'd actually do it.”

She uses her gifts everyday now as a registered nurse at Orthopedic Associates in Fargo, sharing her story and her smile and positive attitude with patients to make their journey easier.

Kristi: “It's in God's hands really. You've just got to believe someone out there can make your miracle happen.”

Now 28, she's healthy and feeling well, in part, thanks to a complex regimen of medications.

Every day she thanks the two most important men in her life: her father and husband of four years, both who farm together, both who gave lifesaving gifts - forever heroes in her life.

Kristi: “Words can't describe, just thank you. Without them I wouldn't be here today. I wouldn't be who I am. Just a wonderful family.”

And her gifts have inspired her to be an advocate for organ donation.

Kristi: “Be a donor. One person can save 50 lives. It's a check of a box when you go get your driver's license. I mean, it's a wonderful gift. It's the gift of life. You can save people's lives.”

Giving her and her heroes more cherished time on the beautiful prairies they all call home.

You can hear more about Kristi's story in tomorrow's forum.

If you know a beautiful woman like Kristi, nominate her at beautiful woman of dot area voices dot com.