My name is Brian Glennon and I am an altruistic kidney donor. Donating one of my kidneys to a stranger was one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made. I wish I had more kidneys to donate. But since I do not, I will do all that I can do to spread awareness about living donation to others. Here is how my decision to donate came to be.
2015 was a tough year for me. I had a few setbacks in my personal life, and it was time for me to do some self-reflection. During this transition period, I came to realize how grateful I was for the life that I had been lucky enough to be living. I wanted to start giving back. I started volunteering and helping others. I wanted to do more.
I attended a symposium at the NJ Sharing Network on living donation in the spring of 2016. I found the idea of becoming a living donor interesting. I started gathering as much information as I could about life with one kidney and how my lifestyle and my family may be affected. I met several living donors and listened to their stories. I was touched and inspired by what I had heard.
I took a full year of thinking about and processing all the information that I had. Then I woke up one day and told my wife I was ready to move forward with donating. We met with the head of transplant at Saint Barnabas Medical Center a few weeks later. Then there were numerous tests, evaluations and more tests. One of the many benefits of donating a kidney is getting an extensive physical workup done. I found out I was very healthy and got the clearance to move forward with my donation.
During this time, we learned that I would be able to start a kidney chain because of my blood type O+. Very exciting!
I donated my kidney on October 3rd, 2017 and we were able to start the longest living donor kidney chain in a single hospital. The last information that I heard about the chain is that it is still going and up to 66 people (33 donors and 33 recipients). I am thrilled to be a part of it. The story has gained a lot of press and we have been able to spread the word of living donation to a huge audience!
I was fortunate enough to meet my recipient on live tv on the Megyn Kelly Today Show in June 2018. I also participated in my first Transplant Games of America in Salt Lake City UT in August 2018. What a great experience! I was even able to medal in some of the events I participated in. Go Team Liberty! Looking forward to the TGA coming to my home state of NJ in 2020! I have been and will continue to be an advocate for living donation.
From the gathering information phase of my donation journey, I learned that I would be able to maintain the same lifestyle that I was accustomed to. I am an avid mountain biker, an average road bike rider and middle of the road but effective runner. I am very active with my family, do house projects/chores and work in our yard. I did not want that to change. And it did not.
I do all the same activities I did pre-donation. My recovery went relatively smooth. I stayed in the hospital for two nights and experienced the most pain the day after surgery. It felt as if I did 10,000 sit-ups in a row. The pain was mostly from my stomach being enlarged with CO2 gas for the laparoscopic procedure. Ironically enough, they say recovery for people in shape is more painful because people in shape tend to have tighter stomachs. The tighter the stomach the more it hurts when expanding it for the surgery. Who would have thought? But each day got better.
I was walking the day after surgery. When I got home, I did laps in the house for a few days. One week after surgery I went on a 5-mile hike and I was back on my mountain bike in one month, albeit a bit slower. But still on it. It took me a full 6 weeks until I felt just as I did pre-surgery. And since then I’ve never felt better, physically or mentally. To me, living donation benefits the recipient and the donor. My life feels more complete since donating. I will continue to share my story to help others who may have questions or hesitations about becoming a living donor. I think Albert Einstein said it best, “Only a life lived for others is worth living.”
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DONATE TO KIDNEY DONOR ATHLETES TO HELP US CONTINUE OUR MISSION TO RAISE AWARENESS AND SHOW THRIVING EXAMPLES OF LIVING DONORS, PLEASE CONSIDER DONATING!
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