Meet Kidney Donor Athlete, Dennis!

I was overweight and lived an unhealthy lifestyle throughout most of my adult years. In 2013, after hearing that my sister, Mae, was diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease, I decided it was time to make a change.

 

Results from my first diet attempts were mixed, a series of trial and error while discovering what my body would respond to. A close friend shared a new diet program with me, and along with regular exercise, I was able to lose over 50 pounds by Summer 2015.

 

It was also in early 2014 that I had learned my sister was suddenly near the end stage of Chronic Kidney Disease and that she would need a kidney transplant. Being the youngest in our family and healthiest, I immediately began testing to be a possible organ donor. A year later we were blessed with the wonderful news that I was not only a good candidate, I was a perfect match! If I had never lost the weight and made the lifestyle change, I would not have qualified to be a donor.

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I wanted to be in the best shape of my life for the transplant surgery. I made sure I was strong and healthy so I could recover quickly. That’s when I discovered bodybuilding and even healthier eating.

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July 12, 2016, finally came, the day of the transplant. It was a success! Knowing how important physical fitness was to me and that I wanted to return to my workouts as quickly as possible, the discharge doctor told me to listen to my body. Only I would know how much pain I could tolerate. So 14 days post-surgery I returned to the gym and started with light cardio walks for 20-30 minutes. It was painful, but I had to get back to my previous routine. With the help of a good friend and personal trainer, I worked my way carefully to lifting weights again 21 days after the surgery. We modified all of the exercises as it was still very painful to engage my core. By 6 weeks post-surgery I was 95% back to normal.

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Since my sister’s kidney transplant, optimal physical fitness, and living a healthy lifestyle became my true passion, a way of life. I trained hard daily, and on September 1, 2018, I competed in my first bodybuilding competition, finishing 2nd place (in my division). People have asked how difficult it was to adjust after the surgery. It was not difficult at all. With the right mindset, proper training, and dedication, it was simply a matter of getting back to what I had already started.

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