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Department of Surgery News Archive

March 2017

Sara Millard

True Grit: Transplant patient Sara Millard's story

This March, Dr. Trevor Nydam performed a kidney transplant on a very special patient: 31-year-old Colorado native Sara Millard. Dr. Nydam says it was perhaps the most challenging kidney transplant he has ever performed.

Born with kidney disease and hypertension, Sara had her first surgery when she was just 6 weeks old. Since that time, she has been through more than 150 surgical procedures—a number that sounds unreal.

Faced with such adversity, many people would have given up hope of living a "normal" life. But Sara kept fighting. She was raised to love the traditions of the American West, and she has found an outlet and a passion in cowboy activities she learned from her parents. Against all odds, Sara has become a world champion in cart shooting, a sport in which competitors replicate challenges of the Old West, shooting at targets with vintage Colt revolvers while riding in horse-drawn carts.

The horse Sara rides in competition is a miniature pony named Tazz. Like Sara herself, Tazz has had to deal with multiple medical issues in his life—including a condition called moon blindness that has completely robbed him of sight. Despite being bilnd, Tazz has no problem following Sara's direction through race courses.  Sara's special bond with the horse has been instrumental in her recovery from multiple surgeries.

Now, thanks to her new kidney, Sara is off dialysis for the first time in 17 years. Read her full story in UCHealth Today.