Walking On, Volume 8, Issue 9, Nov/Dec 2021 - Page 8

Bits & Pieces

Riding Through Adversity

Most of us take breathing for granted . After all , it ’ s not something we think about a whole lot . It ’ s basically an involuntary , essential part of life . Sometimes , when something adversely affects our respiratory system , it ’ s a very fragile part of life . Such has been the case for Tennessee Walking Horse enthusiast and WHOA member Kim Davis .
Kim grew up a typical horse-crazy girl . At 15 years old , without her parent ’ s permission , she got her first horse . A pregnant Quarter Horse mare . When the mare foaled , the barn that Kim was keeping her at called her house and per parents found out she was a horse owner .
Over the years , Kim ’ s involvement with the equine industry grew . Active in 4-H for many years she served as Racine County Superintendent for 4-H and on the Wisconsin State 4-H Board . She was introduced to the Tennessee Walking Horse by her sister-in-law and started her own breeding program . She began showing and found herself making weekly trips from her home in Wisconsin to Tennessee . Eventually she moved to Shelbyville to better pursue her passion .
Four years after moving south , Kim started to get very sick . However , it wasn ’ t until she was injured while weaning a foal that things came to a head . Her injury required a hospital visit and that ’ s where she was diagnosed with sarcoidosis of the lungs . Basically , her lungs were filling with granulomas that she likened to cement . As she lost pulmonary function and became dependent on an oxygen tank , she ended up on longterm disability . As sarcoidosis is progressive , a lung transplant was her only hope . While she still owned horses while on disability , she could no longer ride as her oxygen tank hindered her abilities and spooked her horses .
It took time for Kim to be considered for any transplant list . At first , even though she was on oxygen and unable to work , she was told her condition wasn ’ t dire enough for the transplant list . She was then told that she ’ d need to loose 100 pounds before she would be eligible for surgery . With the help of a weight-loss program at Vanderbilt she was able to drop the pounds over the course of two years . By that point her condition had worsened to the point that she was eligible for 8 • Walking On the transplant list and able to start the transplant process . However , things didn ’ t progress as expected and in February 2018 , Kim was told that her candidacy for a transplant had been denied due to lack of support . It was a heartbreaking development .
Kim ’ s son and daughter-in-law began reaching out to other facilities and Kim applied at four of them . Two accepted her . One of those was the University of Wisconsin at Madison and Kim found herself headed back to her home state on Memorial Day , 2019 . By June 15 of that year she was on the transplant list . On the following Labor Day she received a call asking if she wanted a set of lungs . She was given 15 minutes to decide and if she said yes she had to be at the hospital within four hours . Kim hung up the phone and prayed . She felt a calm come over her and accepted the lungs . The next day she underwent a very lengthy transplant surgery .