Meet Kidney Donor Athlete, Sarah!

As a youth and young adult, I faced some significant health challenges.  Throughout, I always thought of myself as an athlete, but I didn’t have exposure to any particular sport, and I didn’t know where I fit in to the athlete community.  In college, I learned about triathlon and immediately felt a connection to the sport, but my body wouldn’t cooperate. 

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After struggling through my 20’s, I was finally diagnosed with an auto-immune disease and a heart arrhythmia.  I had heart surgery in 2012 and made some lifestyle changes to manage the auto-immune disease. Now I was able to transform myself into the athlete that I always felt lived inside me. By the end of 2018, I had completed 14 triathlons, as well as countless 5ks, cycling events, obstacle course runs, and more. Although I was extremely proud of my transformation and athletic accomplishments, but I was still looking for new ways to challenge myself and my fitness.

I decided to declare 2019 my “Year of Halves.” I set a goal to complete a half-marathon swim (5k), a half (metric) century, a half-marathon, and a half-Ironman.  When the opportunity came up to donate my kidney at the start of the year, I didn’t delay my goals. Instead, I took up the challenge to still complete those events with half the kidneys! 

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I donated my left kidney on February 6, 2019 to the father of a classmate from elementary school. My recovery was smooth with no complications. 

 

I returned to work full-time 3.5 weeks after the surgery, and I started working out again around the same time. I started slowly – hikes with friends and indoor bike trainer sessions. By six-weeks post-op I was feeling completely back to normal and, with the approval of my surgeon, resumed my full triathlon training schedule.  My fitness returned to my pre-op levels quickly, and at 10 weeks post-op, I competed in a super sprint triathlon and placed 3rd overall.

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With my recovery complete, I renewed my commitment to my Year of Halves challenges. I completed the Del Valle Open Water 5K in June, the Cool Breeze Metric Century in July, the Santa Cruz 70.3 Ironman in September, and the Two Cities Clovis Half Marathon in November. Other than paying more attention to my hydration levels, I haven’t made any adjustments to my training or racing. I feel stronger than ever and I swear that donating my kidney has made me more streamlined in the water!

When people ask what drives me, I reflect on the struggles I had when I was younger and know that now I can accomplish ANYTHING I put my mind to – whether that’s completing a 70.3 Ironman or donating a kidney. 

“Whoever saves a life saves the world” – Israeli Proverb

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