Natalie Cole Opens Up About Transplant Surgery, Sister’s Death

Natalie Cole is speaking for the first time about having to undergo kidney transplant surgery in May, while her sister lay dying in a hospital bed.

Natalie got the call that a kidney was available, when her sister, Carole “Cookie” Cole was in a hospital bed in a coma. While she was undergoing the procedure, Cookie died.

“I was in dire straits,” Natalie told AARP magazine’s November & December 2009 issue about receiving the call that a transplant organ was available. “It was a real bad situation, as far as I was concerned. Because everybody was so in shock about Cookie, they didn’t have real good sense.”

Natalie, who had been on dialysis for some time (after her kidneys were destroyed while receiving treatment for Hepatitis C, a disease she is believed to have contracted from her intravenous heroin use in the ‘80s), told the magazine receiving the organ as her sister passed away was tough.

“I was getting good news and very bad news at the same time. This was a very joyous moment where I’ve got new life. It was also a very sorrowful moment, where my sister had gone on, and the family that donated the kidney had lost their daughter as well. My first reaction was that I wished I were back on dialysis to have my sister,” Natalie said. “These two people had left this earth— and I was here. Why? I feel like I don’t deserve it.”

These days, the singer, who has returned to performing (including a stand last month at the Hollywood Bowl), said she feels like she has angels looking out for her.

“Those angels on my shoulder who’ve been there all along—now I know that my sister Cookie is one of them,” Natalie told the mag.

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