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Kidney recipient rebounds like a whirlwind

Katrina, left and twin Kayla were all smiles at the Hubbard County Fair. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

A determined little tomboy is defying the odds and delighting her doctors just months after undergoing a successful kidney transplant.

Six-year-old Katrina Olafson returned to her Century School kindergarten class in mid-February and is headed for first grade in the fall.

Meanwhile, dad Justin said she's "moving at 100 miles an hour."

She and twin sister Kayla went to the Hubbard County fair recently. Katrina takes dance classes and participates in after school activities.

"She can do whatever she wants and whatever she feels physically capable of doing," Justin said.

"With any kind of transplant you're on immuno-suppressant drugs for the rest of your life but her doses have been going lower and lower and lower every single checkup so that's a good thing," he added.

Those decreasing doses of anti-rejection drugs mean fewer complications and side effects, he said.

"We've had a biopsy and there's absolutely no sign of rejection," Justin said. "The doctors couldn't be happier with how things are coming out."

Katrina and Kayla were separated for long stretches of time while Katrina underwent dialysis and waited for a donor.

The reunited sisters are thick as thieves, their dad says. But Kayla has assumed somewhat of a caretaker role.

"Kayla helps her with the shyness and is outgoing and personable, so Katrina attaches herself to her and makes friends through her," Justin said. "She's a big helper."

He still marvels at how different his girls are. Kayla's a "girly girl" who loves dress up and feminine things.

Katrina loves "racing and digging in the dirt," her dad said. "They're total opposites for twins," he laughed.

The girl who arrived into the world as a 1-pound, 11- ounce preemie and has had renal problems most of her young life now has a rosy glow and an impish grin as she waits impatiently for the midway rides to start at the fair.

She spent her Mayo Clinic time reading, playing video games and catching up with schoolwork so Kayla wouldn't leave her behind. The day she got back to Park Rapids, she insisted on going to school, Justin said.

She still has weekly blood draws and periodic checkups but those will decrease in frequency, Justin said.

The sky's the limit, it seems. And "the way she's shot up, three inches since this happened to her," she'll be dancing in the clouds soon.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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