Local woman finds healing through music

Sutton recovering from transplant

Kimberly Sutton, with faithful companions, is recovering from a kidney transplant.
BY CARTER LOEFFELHOLZ

Kimberly Sutton, a Springtown graduate, comes from a family of musicians; her father was a guitarist and her mother played the steel guitar and sang.
For Sutton’s first birthday, she received a drum and hand-carved drumsticks from her parents. This was just the beginning of her long, successful career as a drummer and songwriter.
In December 2004, Sutton’s mother, Janet Wyatt Sutton Golden Miller, died of Multiple Sclerosis. Afterward, Kimberly wanted to find a way to honor her mother.
Being a lifelong musician and songwriter, Sutton decided to write, record, and release “Your Warm Beautiful Angel Wings,” dedicated to her mother.
The song was meant to honor her mother in every way. Sutton included guitar parts mimicking the steel guitar that her mother played and also brief phrases of her mother’s favorite song: Amazing Grace.
Sutton decided that to help other families dealing with MS, she would sell her CDs and give the proceeds to charities related to the disease.
From there, Sutton was asked to perform and speak at many charity events, such as the annual MS walk.
For Sutton, doing charity work was just an everyday part of life. Although her family never had much, Sutton says her mother taught her to always give as much as possible.
“We were dirt poor, but we’ve helped people no matter how poor we were,” Sutton said.
That’s why, when she wasn’t drumming, Kimberly loved to spend her free time volunteering at Cook Children’s Hospital, retirement homes, and animal shelters.
But in early 2017, Sutton found herself in a dire situation; her kidney was failing and doctors told her that she wouldn’t have much time left unless she received a transplant.
Suddenly, the woman who helped the sick her whole life needed help herself.
That help finally came on March, when the hospital called to tell Sutton that they had found a kidney for her.
“There were just so many emotions,” Sutton said. “It’s a new chance at life.”
But her joy turned to sadness when she learned who the donor was: a five-year-old boy.
“I just sunk,” Sutton said. “I went from happy to crying. The hardest part was knowing a little boy lost his life.
“I think about him every day. I call him my precious little angel boy. I pray for the family and I thank him all the time.”
Although it has been just over a year since the operation, it still affects her daily life. Sutton loves to hike, kayak, and do everything with her dogs, but when she started having kidney issues, she said she began struggling to do the things that she enjoyed.
“I went from being very active, to almost dying, and now having another chance at life,” Sutton said.
One side effect of the transplant is a weakened immune system, meaning Sutton must be extra cautious to avoid getting sick.
She also said she often worries about the possibility of her new kidney failing.
“You worry about the rejection and about it failing,” Sutton said. “It’s a constant in my head. Is it going to still work, how long is it going to work? You can’t help it.”
As someone who has spent her whole life taking care of others, Sutton said it was weird for her to rely so much on others.
She needed help doing almost anything, like making meals, taking medicine, or even just getting in and out of bed.
Taking care of sick people was something Sutton was used to.
In the years before her mother passed, Sutton worked hard to ensure she had the best quality life possible. She had done the same thing with her grandmother years before.
Not only had she done this with family members, but Sutton would also frequently volunteer help people in the hospital and in nursing homes.
But this time, she needed someone to take care of her, and Sutton says her brother, Don Sutton, was crucial in tending to her and making sure she got better.
“My brother, I owe him a lot because he sacrificed to take care of me,” Sutton said.
Sutton said that although there were times she felt like a burden to those taking care of her, she is incredibly grateful for the help and support she received.
Sutton said she would like to thank all the people who have helped her through this process: Sammie and Brad Hahn, Jeri Field, Elizabeth Cole, Terry Grant, Evan and Kasey Andrews, Don Sutton and Darren Sutton.
“I don’t like asking for help even when I desperately need the help,” Sutton said.
Now, over a year after the operation, Sutton is in the process of meeting the family of the young boy, so she can thank them and tell them about the incredible impact he has made on her life.