Los Angeles,
01
January
2020
|
09:01 AM
America/Los_Angeles

Cedars-Sinai Double Transplant Patient to Ride in Rose Parade

Cedars-Sinai Patient and Donate Life Float Rider Regina Armstrong is Celebrating the One-Year Anniversary of Her Kidney Transplant on New Year's Day

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Regina Armstrong is looking forward to an especially exciting start to the new year. The 44-year-old Cedars-Sinai patient will be celebrating the one-year anniversary of her kidney transplant as a rider on the Donate Life float in this year's Rose Parade.

Armstrong's health problems date back to when she was just 12 years old. She caught a virus that severely damaged her heart to the point where she needed a heart transplant. After a successful transplant in 1987, Armstrong was able to live a full life. She graduated college, became a teacher, married and had a son. But eventually, her kidneys started failing as a result of years of anti-rejection drugs.

On Dec. 31, 2018, Armstrong got the phone call she had prayed for and learned that Cedars-Sinai had a kidney match for her. She woke up in the medical center the next day—Jan. 1, 2019—with new kidneys.

"I am totally blessed," Armstrong said. "I am forever grateful to my angel donors."

Armstrong has not met the donor family for either of her transplants, but she said that she thinks of them and thanks them daily.

Armstrong, who volunteers to encourage others to register as tissue and organ donors, is thrilled to be taking part in this year's Rose Parade.

"Consider organ donation," she said. "Don't take your organs to heaven. God knows we need them here."

Incredibly, Armstrong is not the only transplant patient in her family. Her father-in-law had a double lung transplant at Cedars-Sinai in 2018 and is doing fine. Her husband received an experimental hand transplant at a different hospital following an accident in 2002.

Armstrong's husband and teenage son will be on hand to cheer her on at the Rose Parade.

In addition to Armstrong, another Cedars-Sinai patient, Heidi Miller, will be taking part in the Rose Parade as a float walker with the Donate Life float. Miller comes to the Rose Parade not as an organ recipient but as an organ donor, having donated a kidney to an acquaintance in her Laguna Beach community.

She decided to look into donating a kidney in 2017 after learning that a fellow community member, Bruce Cook, was dying from kidney disease. Much to her surprise, Miller turned out to be a perfect match.

"From beginning to end it was magical, not one glitch, and everyone was so kind and accommodating," Miller said.

Miller and Cook are now the closest of friends. Together, they mentor other people interested in kidney donation. Miller estimated she has made 17 matches. Miller is being sponsored in the Rose Parade by the Balboa Club of Laguna Beach.