Last week I was having snacks and a bourbon on the rocks with a couple of friends while in Madison for work. I was catching up with them when we got on the topic of my kidney donation and the subsequent birth of Kidney Donor Athletes. And then the question came.
‘Why didn’t you just donate your kidney and be done with it? Why keep talking about it?’
Good question, right?
Now, I knew my audience while I sat in that room across from them. They are big cheerleaders of mine but have been scratching their heads the entire time I went through the donation process.
Leading up to donation I was floored by all the negative comments I received. People dumped their fear-based opinions all over me again and again.
‘What if you need a kidney someday?’
‘Will you still be able to run?’
‘You won’t be able to drink alcohol after, right?’
As I clinked the ice cubes in my glass of top-shelf bourbon, formulating a response, I had a hard time coming up with the words to respond in a way that would make sense. I stumbled through a description of what it’s like to know you gave multiple people the chance for a second shot at life. I talked about not just the 100,000 people on the list waiting for a transplant, but for the hundreds of thousands of people that don’t qualify to be on the list that need a kidney.
But really, my gut is calling the shots here. It’s my gut feeling that even started me talking about my experience with donation. It gets me up at 4am to write a post or respond to another message from a curious potential donor. It pushes me to overcome my legacy fear of public speaking and volunteer to get up in front of a room of mostly strangers and share my experience.
Just this morning I was listening to a podcast where Lewis Howes interviewed Rachel Hollis. The title of the episode was “How to Build Confidence, Believe in Yourself and Become Your Best Self”. It was lighting my soul on fire! Here she is, telling me (and a zillion other people) that we are allowed to have a dream and chase it, even if it doesn’t make sense to other people. ESPECIALLY when it doesn’t make sense to other people! All the while I was thinking about that question I was asked just last week. ‘Why keep talking about it?’
The podcast was making my soul feel like it was strapped to a rocket ship when I checked my personal Instagram account. There was a message request. Once I clicked on it, this was waiting for me.
Soak that in my friends – this advocacy stuff is working!
My spirit soared – THIS is why I do this. This ultra runner was facing many of the same questions I asked myself while leading up to donation, and he found my story.
My heart was on FIRE as I replied back and quickly headed out the door to meet a woman for coffee.
I was meeting someone who reached out to me a few months ago. She was interested in donating her kidney.
We had instant rapport as we sipped our drinks and she shared her journey so far. She had told just four people close to her that she was going to do this.
Want to know what one of them said?
‘What if your kidney goes on to someone who ends up becoming a mass murderer?’
I shit you not. That is what she said.
THIS is why I do this. The amount of fear and scarcity-based thinking and inaccurate assumptions about kidney donation are why I do this. This woman is choosing to take a path that will potentially save lives, and some of the people closest to her are trying to get her not to do it because they aren’t educated about it.
I am bringing her into my network of close girlfriends that also happen to be kidney donors. We will support her by being honest about our own journeys, and give her the gift of not looking at her like she has three heads.
These are examples of why I chose to talk about my donation. These are examples of why I started Kidney Donor Athletes. And these are examples of why I’m dreaming BIG and want to work towards getting a corporate sponsor that will fully fund this venture for two years.
I want to showcase this community of compassionate, driven souls that see the value in life, and embrace that we have the gift of sharing that thriving sense of adventure with those that are sick. We, as a community, can save lives. We can change the world.
With every curious person that reaches out, I want to open the lines of communication. I want to connect you with living donors in your area. I want you to know that you are welcomed and celebrated in this community of like-minded souls. We are put on this earth to make a difference and leave the world better than we found it. For some of us, donating a kidney is the way to experience that.
If you have a curiosity about kidney donation but have been scared to take the first step, YOU are the reason I do this. Shoot me a message and we’ll start there. I got you.