My mom became sick in the spring of 2015. Although it is still difficult to say what exactly caused her kidneys to fail, she had the perfect storm of events occur to cause her to become septic in the ICU and in end-stage renal failure.
Once my mom started doing better that summer, my triplet brother Chris and I flew with my mom to Savannah, GA where my sister just had her first child. We were visiting with relatives in nearby Hilton Head and as we got up to leave the restaurant my mom went into sudden cardiac arrest. My sister Ali, who happens to work as a nurse in the ICU, began CPR immediately. She reacted so quickly and in such a smart way that she saved my mom’s life that night. She is THE TRUE HERO.
After again recovering from all of that, my family and I learned of the option of a kidney transplant for my mom. My mom was now in end-stage renal failure and a kidney transplant would be her best bet at returning to her normal, healthy life. I had such a real feeling inside of me that I knew I was going to be the one to donate. And so I got tested right away and found out I was not a good direct match. We had several offers to donate, which is incredible, but time after time it did not work out.
With the guidance and hard work of the transplant team at Christ Hospital, my mom and I were cleared to be put into the National Kidney Registry and quickly were matched with a chain of recipients and donors.
I decided to donate because my mom deserves a happy and healthy life- one in which she can enjoy her husband, 5 children, and 9 grandchildren and continue to run her own business. My mom is the most loving and selfless person so it was an easy decision. Selfishly, I want her to be in my life for as long as possible!
Prior to donating my kidney, I competed in CrossFit, as well as Strongman and Powerlifting Competitions. As a former Division I softball player, I developed a passion for weightlifting and always take advantage of every opportunity to compete.
My recovery was certainly not an easy road. I was cleared to leave the hospital after only 2 days but dealt with a great deal of back pain following the surgery. I believe this is due to the lack of abdominal strength I had after the surgery. I returned to coaching softball after only 3 weeks, which was incredibly difficult as I was limited in what I was able to do and standing for long periods of time hurt my back. At the 6 week mark, I started feeling much better. The back pain was subsiding and I felt more like myself. I was able to begin throwing batting practice and hitting ground balls, which the girls appreciated!
I began walking on the treadmill at the 6-week mark and was surprised that not very much after I began to walk, I was able to jog. I began working on regaining my core strength as soon as possible. The biggest unexpected hurdle I found in returning to fitness is that I was able to keep most of my strength, but found that my back took a beating if I overdid it. Consequently, I adjusted my training routine and stayed around from heavy barbell movements until I was able to strengthen my core enough to support the load.
I am not as strong as I was pre-surgery but am getting closer and closer. I just recently competed in my first CrossFit Competition prior to surgery. I was able to hit a 185lb clean just 2 months shy of my 2 year Anniversary. The weekend before I competed in my first ever Spartan Race at Fenway in Boston, MA. I now put a much bigger emphasis on my core strength as well as strengthening my hip flexors and back. I also run more and prioritize my cardiovascular fitness as well as strength. I feel like a much more well-rounded athlete and am proud of my overall fitness.