Meet Kidney Donor Athlete, Jenn!

I was so excited to get that call… I remember when I called my mother who was in Florida (where she lives), telling her that I agreed to move forward… her words to me “Are you sure”… I couldn’t have been any more certain of that.

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When you see someone go through a medical condition that A) you have no idea what it is and you have to read Cliff’s Notes on the Who, What and Where to understand all of it so you can be completely informed, and B) have the ability to translate that (and usually not all of it) to the patient and in this case my loved one… it’s hard and it hurts. Because just knowing the facts, or the next steps aren’t enough to make the pain go away.

 

To take you back and give you some history, in 2015 my mother was diagnosed with kidney cancer and needed to have surgery to remove her kidney. I was with her all the way and supported and took care of her. In fact, she moved into my one-bedroom New York City apartment with my wife and dog! During her healing process and doctor’s visits I 100% neglected myself care and health. I gained weight, became out of shape and wasn’t myself.  Once my mother was well enough to head back home I took a mental picture and decided it was about me. I went ahead and read and learned everything I could about nutrition and exercise. I went to the gym with focus and purpose, and within 6-9 months I lost 35 pounds and felt amazing! So amazing that I wanted to help others. I became a personal trainer and started to teach martial arts at my dojo.

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Then in November of 2017, my mother had a really bad infection that required a seven day IV drip of medication. She never really recovered from that, and then in January of 2018 – kidney failure. Just like that. Stage 5 renal failure and she was put on dialysis.

 

Once again, I was by her side and did whatever I had to do to understand this situation and what I can do to help her get better. It was April of 2018 I received the call from one of her nephrologists at Columbia University Hospital. They said that her only kidney was too far gone. She needed a kidney transplant.

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I did my research on kidney transplants- both living and deceased donation. Once I understood the facts and the success rate of living donation, plus reading the statistics of the waiting list for a kidney donation is 5 to10 years, I didn’t hesitate and just knew. I knew it was going to be me to donate my kidney and get my mother back to herself so she can live life to the fullest and enjoy her family!

 

Tuesday August 14, 2018, I donated my kidney to my mother and gave her a second chance at life.

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I was in the hospital for two days and sent home feeling okay. I think my recovery was hard because I wanted to do things and I couldn’t, I needed to rest. In all, I think I was back at light exercising (walking) within three weeks and regular workouts within six weeks.

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Looking back had I not taken the time to refocus my energy onto myself and put myself back on track to becoming a healthy person, I may not have had the chance to donate to my mother. So by making myself a priority and focusing on my needs, I was able to help and save someone else.

 

That’s what organ donation is. It’s giving someone a second chance. They didn’t ask to have organ failure or a medical condition. We (kidney donors) have the ability to help someone live the life they were meant to. We will be fine because we have a superpower. That’s why we are able to donate.

 

My mother is doing very well and we both are healthy.

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