SABATTUS — After undergoing a successful kidney transplant, donor Kathy Pare said she’ll be ready to drive her bus when school opens Sept. 2.

“Everything went fantastic,” she said.

As soon as recipient Mike Blais woke up from surgery on July 21, he said he was feeling better.

“It went perfect,” Blais said. “I could taste food again. Water tasted like water. Apple juice tasted like apple juice.”

No longer on a strict diet, he can drink all the water he wants.

“I ate Chinese pie last night,” he said. “It’s unbelievable.”


Before the transplant at Maine Medical Center in Portland, his kidney was so low-functioning “it poisoned my system,” he said. “I had a bad taste in my mouth all the time.” He suffered leg pains from fluid buildup.

A healthy kidney filters waste in the body and regulates electrolytes and minerals, nurse Roxanne Taylor, living donation coordinator for Maine Medical Center’s transplant program, said. When the kidneys don’t work, urine and water build up in the body, creating painful swelling which can hurt the heart and vascular system, Taylor said.

Doctors told him his kidneys were getting worse.

“I was one week away from needing dialysis,” Blais said. Pare’s generosity “changed my life.”

He still has to take it easy, but feels great, he said. “I have more energy. I’m not hurting. I used to be on edge all the time. Now I think more positive.”

Pare, who vowed she’d be out of the hospital quickly, was released a day after the transplant. The surgery lasted about four hours, she said.


“I ate a meal that evening,” she said.

She was delighted to learn in the hospital that the kidney she donated “worked right away. Mike’s doing awesome, God love him,” she said.

She needs to take it easy as her body heals. Pare expects to be back to normal by September.

“After having six kids, this was a breeze,” she said. “It’s tolerable.”

On Thursday, she got clearance from her doctor to use her riding mower. Her yard needs mowing, she said.

Last fall, a transplant surgery with former Lewiston police officer Alice Laliberte, who volunteered to donate a kidney to Blais, was postponed when tests revealed Laliberte, now Alice Cregg, had early stages of lung cancer.


Since then she’s undergone cancer treatments, is doing well, recently married, and is back to work as a federal agent at the Canadian border in Coburn Gore. Because she had no symptoms, Cregg said she had no idea she had cancer. Trying to save Mike Blais “saved my life,” she said.

Pare read about Blais needing a kidney in the Sun Journal. She volunteered in memory of her grandmother.

When she was 24, her grandmother was on dialysis; it was too late for her to get a kidney. Before she died, Pare made a vow to her grandmother.

“I told her if I knew anybody in need of one after I was done bearing children, I would definitely do that,” Pare said.

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