Kannapolis police chief recovering after kidney transplant

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 16, 2013

KANNAPOLIS — After months of waiting and a longer struggle with renal disease, family members say Kannapolis Police Chief Woody Chavis is recovering well after a kidney transplant operation Monday.
Chavis, who’s been on the force for almost 30 years and has been police chief since 2007, went public about his condition last August in an effort to encourage both kidney patients needing dialysis and potential organ donors.
He had been on a transplant waiting list for months, until a match was found close to his own family.
In an e-mail Tuesday evening, wife Deena Chavis said her husband’s new kidney was donated by Michelle Phillips, partner of Chavis’ daughter, Kaci.
Chavis himself posted about the surgery Sunday to friends on Facebook.
“There is no way to express just how much this means to me,” he wrote. “I have been tied to my home for over two years now, unable to live a normal life.”
“Michelle is giving my life back to me,” Chavis continued. “I pray that God looks over her during the surgery and her recovery and we can live as a family when this is all over with.”
After Monday’s surgery, Deena Chavis said her husband was in pain from the operation, but in good spirits.
She said the family is thankful for the prayers and well-wishes of friends, family and the Kannapolis community.
And, Deena wrote, “for all those out there waiting for ‘the call.’”
Thousands of Americans in similar situations lack a donor kidney, and there are far fewer organ donors than there are men and women in need of a transplant.
Tuesday afternoon, Deena Chavis said her husband was continuing to improve, and there has been some discussion of discharging him by the end of the week.
Phillips was also reported to be recovering well. Deena Chavis said it was likely she would be discharged today.
“She was even able to walk from her unit to visit with Woody this morning,” Deena said via e-mail.
Chavis gave an interview on his condition to the Concord Independent Tribune last August.
At that time, it was reported that many officers on his force weren’t aware their chief was on dialysis.
Following his diagnosis in 2010, Chavis was quoted as saying he wanted to let other kidney patients know their condition was not “a death sentence,” that it was possible to maintain a normal life while undergoing treatment.
“Woody’s goal all along on this journey was to make individuals aware of the living kidney donor program,” Deena said.
But other potential kidney donors who tested, including daughter Kaci, were not a match for her husband.
For months, the two maintained a state of readiness, waiting for a call that a donor kidney might be available.
But, Deena said, thanks to Michelle’s gift, her husband will be able to live more normally.
And, in his message to friends Sunday, Chavis thanked his wife for her support.
“I love her with all my heart,” he wrote. “I couldn’t have made it without her.”
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.