Saturday, February 17 , 2018, 11:19 pm | Fair 45º


Local News

SBB&T Teller ‘Living the Dream’ with New Baby, New Kidney

Katherine Pinedo gives birth to a daughter just 18 months after receiving a lifesaving donation from co-worker Randy Weiss

Katherine Pinedo knows she has a lot to be thankful for.

About 18 months ago, the Santa Barbara Bank & Trust teller was the recipient of a new kidney — courtesy of co-worker Randy Weiss — and is finally free from the dialysis machine that sustained her.

And now that she’s been given a new life, she has ushered a new one into the world — giving birth last Wednesday to a baby girl, Belissia.

While husband Daniel fed little Belissia, Pinedo talked with Noozhawk for a few moments Monday night about how grateful she is for the transplant that changed her life. She received the new kidney from Weiss last June, her body has accepted it and now she’s able to live her life fully — without machines.

“I’m so grateful, now more than ever,” she said.

The transplant has opened up numerous possibilities — dreams she has always had but that never would have been possible while on dialysis. One of those dreams was having a child, something that had to wait until she received a new kidney.

About 86,000 people in the United States are on the waiting list for kidney transplants, according to the National Kidney Foundation, and one person dies every two hours while waiting for a transplant.

Pinedo said she knows how different her story could have been without the transplant, and she offered words of encouragement for those on a waiting list for an organ.

“I would tell people to never give up hope,” she said. “You may not know who’s working on your behalf.”

One group that works behind the scenes to give people life through organ donations is Donate Life California, which meets once a month and sends out “ambassadors” to educate people about the imperative needs of people on transplant waiting lists. Pinedo said she is hoping to become more involved with the group — and even become an ambassador — when she’s not busy being a new mom.

Baby Belissia was born last Wednesday.
Baby Belissia was born last Wednesday. (Pinedo family photo)

Hearing the news of Pinedo’s baby ahead of Thanksgiving, Weiss said the holiday is full of emotions and a gratefulness for life. He said the staff at Santa Barbara Bank & Trust’s downtown branch, 20 E. Carrillo St., is sharing the news and sending her well wishes.

“Everybody is so happy for her here,” he said.

Pinedo called him the night of the birth, and he recalled the “sheer joy” in her voice.

“We had many conversations over the course of doing this, and she always talked about wanting a family,” Weiss said. “She’s living her dream.”

In the year and a half since the transplant, Weiss said life has been full of changes for the better.

“Katherine did me a favor,” he said, adding that he takes much better care of his body now. Once struggling with high blood pressure and high cholesterol, Weiss said he’s much healthier, and that he’s even been able to take up activities such as long-distance ocean swimming.

“It was a wake-up call,” Weiss said. “I think we both gave each other the gift of life.”

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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