Meet Kidney Donor Athlete, Shawni!

I have been a cheerleader, dancer, and performer since I made the varsity cheerleading squad in 1995.  I have always loved being active and using my energy to motivate, inspire, and cheer for others.  I have been a youth cheer coach and dance team choreographer and I participated in a dance team in college.  I’ve enjoyed performing and bringing people joy through movement, dance, and fitness.  I became a Zumba® Instructor in 2012 after having my second child.  It has helped to keep the flame alive inside of me and has enabled me to help people to keep moving to achieve a healthy and active lifestyle.  I taught my Zumba® classes up until 2 days before I donated a kidney to my brother.

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My recovery post-surgery was a blessing.  Aside from the normal aches and pains that result from having major surgery, I recovered in what I believe to be the normal amount of time; i.e. 6 to 8 weeks.  It was an adjustment of course right out of surgery.  I was extremely tired and very sore.  I had a great transplant team that took excellent care of me in the hospital.  I slept most of the time and took full advantage of all of the medication that was at my disposal.  I had surgery on a Thursday.  I left the hospital 3 days later on Sunday afternoon.

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I had a great support system at home.  My family is pretty close and we don’t live too far from one another.  I didn’t have any extreme circumstances that required me to go back to the hospital.  I dealt with pain and discomfort with my medication and I rested a lot.  I got as much sleep as possible.  I also drank a lot of water day in and day out.  And, I took care to walk when I had the energy to do so.  I watched a ton of Netflix and a whole bunch of Zumba® Fitness videos to motivate myself to get well soon.

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I was excited to get back to teaching my Zumba® Fitness classes.  During my recovery, my colleagues motivated me with their videos and there were so many classes to watch online.  I was eager and I was ready to get back. However, I took my time and gradually eased into teaching only 1 class a week.  Getting back was exactly what I needed.  I had to start retraining my body again and boosting my energy levels so that I could teach a 60-minute classes and 3-hour training sessions.

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The first thing I noticed when getting back to classes was how dehydrated I would get.  I was easily winded too.  So, I had to pace myself and give myself grace to allow gradually getting back into the swing of things.  I increased my water intake as well.  And, I didn’t go so hard in my routines.  I took things one class at a time.  I also made sure to be easy on myself and take care of my mental, emotional, and physical stability before teaching classes. Getting back into fitness taught me to take care of myself first at all times so that I could give my energy and joy passionately in my classes.

I am more energetic and excited about life than ever before!  Other than feeding my body well, drinking plenty of water, and staying active, there aren’t any new precautions that I take now.  My goal is to live abundantly and without anxiety.  I am a huge proponent of moving through life in peace, joy, love, and in calm flow.   I hardly spend my time thinking about the fact that I only have one kidney now.   Not to sound cliché, but I absolutely have a new lease on life.  I want to live my grandest dreams and show my daughters that they too have an important role to play in this life and there is no time like the present to simply Just Do It!  Although I have given my brother a second chance at life, I feel like I have gained so much perspective, wisdom, and vision for myself and for my future.

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 I believe I was called by a divine power to become an organ donor.  It is a part of my Big Picture, my story, and my ultimate purpose in life, which is to make the world healthier and happier through Dance Fitness.  I am grateful that I was in a healthy position to help my brother.  It has shown me all of the power and all of the magic that I have inside of me.  I save lives.  I am a real-life hero and that makes me Happy.  I am proud of myself for being brave. This experience is a major component of my life work and it is one of the very special chapters in my book of life; my ultimate journey.  I am humbled and I am honored to be @thedancingdonor.  It’s Go Time Baby!

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