Three months after her transplant surgery, the singer says, "I'm pretty amazed"
While she does not know who donated the kidney that potentially saved her life, Natalie Cole is on the mend and “really doing well,” the Grammy-winning singer said at Thursday’s Harold Pump Foundation Gala in Beverly Hills to honor Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Bill Russell.
“It’s remarkable what a new kidney does to your life. I have no complaints … I’m pretty amazed. I have been working on my stamina.”
Cole, whose transplant surgery took place in May, says, “I just went to the doctor today. He is thrilled. I’m just really, really thankful. I’m thankful to the doctors, I’m thankful to the family that donated the kidney.”
In terms of the support she received, the Los Angeles-based Cole, 59, says, “My sisters who live in Florida, they came out, my son, oodles of friends. I got sick in New York, I wasn’t at home. I didn’t know how many good friends I had until this happened. It was beautiful. I had people come and see me everyday to see me in the hospital for 10 days.”
Having already announced a Hollywood Bowl comeback performance set for Sept. 9, Cole says, “I only wish for anyone to have to go through this, that they have a circle of friends like I did. I was very blessed.”
When it came to the medical procedure, she says, “It is hard to find a match. A lot of people want to donate a kidney, but they’re not in a position to because they have health issues of their own, and a lot of people need them. That’s why the list is long and it takes a long time.
“My friend was on dialysis for six years before he got a new kidney. I was on dialysis for eight months. I’m almost not even the typical person who has kidney failure.”
Thankful as she is for the gift, Cole is prevented from knowing who donated the organ. “I don’t know who they are. I have not met them, it’s all anonymous,” Cole says.
One thing she did know, however: the family specifically requested that the organ go to Cole. “That’s what was so awesome, their family basically requested that the kidney go to me,” she says. “We are not sure how they knew.”
Would she like to meet the donor? “Absolutely, are you kidding? I would probably kiss them all over the place.”
• Natalie opens up about battling hepatitis C