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Local News

SBBT Teller Returns to Work with New Kidney, New Hope

Three months after co-worker Randy Weiss donated a kidney to Katherine Pinedo, her colleagues welcome her back with a group hug

It’s the end of a remarkable journey and the beginning of a new one.

When Katherine Pinedo reported to work Tuesday after being out for three months after kidney transplant surgery, there was new hope. Many smiles. Even more hugs and well-wishes.

Pinedo, a senior teller at Santa Barbara Bank & Trust’s Main Branch, received a kidney donated from co-worker Randy Weiss on June 12. Weiss returned to his community relations job a few days later, but it was a more extensive recuperation for Pinedo.

Gone immediately were the nightly rounds of 12-hour, self-administered dialysis.

“I feel great now. My body was beat up by dialysis and then the surgery, so recovery was tougher than I originally thought it would be. But it was certainly well worth it,” Pinedo said. “Last night, I was so excited about returning to work and a ‘normal life’, I could hardly sleep.”

Pinedo was welcomed back with open arms. There was a team huddle before the branch opening, where Pinedo was engulfed in a “group hug” — a practice initiated by Matt Limon, a senior new accounts specialist and local youth football coach.

“It’s something for special occasions like today,” Limon said. “It literally brings us closer together as ‘family.’ We are all happy to have Katherine back and doing so well.”

After surgery, Pinedo had weekly treks to Los Angeles with husband Danny for follow-up tests and assessments, and was closely monitored by her doctors and transplant team at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. She received the green light a few weeks ago to return to work.

“My new kidney worked immediately and actually too good at first. We recalibrated it with special supplements over a brief period. It’s now working perfectly,” Pinedo said. “Quite honestly, my biggest challenge is drinking four liters of water daily.”

“My ‘new little sis’ looks great, and I’m really proud of her,” Weiss said. “Of course, I love it when my kidneys are reunited — it always feels like a family reunion,” he quipped.

Pinedo said, “My doctors tell me that as long as I take my meds, my new kidney should last a lifetime. I hope others consider organ donation in giving life and hope to others. There are thousands of people on the waiting list. I’m living proof that you can save a life.”

To mark the special occasion, customers at SBBT’s Main Branch received a little something extra with their Tuesday transactions — Life Savers candy.

— Brian Kerstiens is a community relations specialist for Pacific Capital Bancorp, parent company of Santa Barbara Bank & Trust.

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