Meet Kidney Donor Athlete, Leslie!

I’m a feisty 63 year- old, and I adore my four adult children and three young grandchildren. I also teach high school in Baltimore, Md.  Many years ago, when I was a substitute teacher, I taught a young boy who had some medical issues.  At the time I didn’t realize how serious his problems were. When I began my full- time teaching career I left substitute teaching behind and soon forgot about this little boy. Four years ago, I serendipitously ran into this young boy’s mother and asked about his health.  When she told him he urgently needed a kidney, I quickly volunteered to get tested. It turned out I was a perfect match. Our surgery was in August 2014 and we are both doing quite well. It was the best thing I’ve ever done.  Prior to donation I was an active runner and ran in 10K’s, half marathons and a couple of full marathons. I was fit but never would have considered myself an elite runner. I ran for the enjoyment and the camaraderie with good friends.

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My recovery was very smooth. I left the hospital after two days and because I’m a very stubborn woman. I was determined to get back onto my feet as soon as possible.  The day after I left the hospital I began walking in my neighborhood to speed up the recovery process. I started with very short walks but within a week, I was going further.  I was back at work within two weeks and while that was tiring, I made it work. My journey back to fitness was mostly uneventful, although I did push things a bit too far.  Three weeks after surgery I tried running again; it didn’t work out too well. I came home exhausted and promptly threw up! It was another couple of weeks of recovery before I attempted another run.  I donated in August, and in October I ran my first 10K.

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I really don’t feel too much different now, and not much has changed.  Like others who have donated, I don’t take NSAIDs (mostly) and I have been asked not to take supplements. Because I can’t take NSAIDs, I rely on an acupuncturist to help with the aches and pains from running.

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I still run and generally just enjoy life. I participate in 24-hour relay runs and love to run on trails.  I just finished a half marathon in Florida and will run another half in November and one in December. This past February I ran my first 50K and, I’m currently training for a 50-mile walk that will occur in February 2019.  Next on my list is the Trail Circle Fest in October 2019 which will take me to the Grand Canyon.  I also strength train and do yoga on a regular basis. On paper, it all looks terribly impressive, but I still don’t consider myself an elite runner or athlete. I’m not fast, I’m not particularly graceful, nor am I likely to win any first- place awards. None of that bothers me.  I want to be able to play with my grandkids for years to come and I love being fit.

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One thing has changed post donation, and I’m still trying to figure it out.  I get very dehydrated in the hot, humid weather and have ended up in the medic’s tent a couple of times after a run. I keep trying new things and so far, I haven’t figured it out. But, that doesn’t stop me from trying again.  In fact, if any of your readers have any suggestions, I’d appreciate it.

Donating to Kai was scary. My family thought I was crazy, and my sister stopped talking to me for a while.  I knew it was the right thing to do and once I got the go-ahead from Johns Hopkins I did not look back.  I made a tremendous difference in a young man’s life, and it was such a simple thing to do.  All is right with my world tonight.

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5 thoughts on “Meet Kidney Donor Athlete, Leslie!

  1. So proud of you and so happy to have a mother who sets such a courageous and selfless example of how to impact the lives of those around you. Love you, mom

  2. Words cannot express the thanks we have to you Leslie! Thank you and we love you kay dambach mother of Kai

  3. I’m lying waiting to go down to theatre this morning to donate my kidney (non-directed). I’m hoping my recovery is as smooth as yours. Thank you for sharing (your kidney and your story). This kind of information is so helpful and people like you are an inspiration.

    1. Best of luck in your non-directed donation! Being a NDD is a wonderful feeling that you always have with you from this point forward – congratulations! Our Kidney Donor Athlete community is very active on Instagram and Facebook – please join us if you haven’t already! We’re all happy to be supportive in your recovery! 💚♻️

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