Meet Kidney Donor Athlete, Natalie!

Being a healthy, active woman in my 50s, I knew after seeing my friend’s story about needing a kidney for her daughter several times that I needed to throw my name into the hat and at least see if I was a match.  It was a long journey but I indeed was a directly compatible blood match for my recipient.  All of the testing was like a physical on steroids but I welcomed the opportunity since I was in the best shape of my life.  A few things came up on my health end that had to be addressed but in the end they were non-hurdles and we were able to proceed with surgery.  

My life could definitely be described as active. I like to make the most of every day and opportunity and love to be moving my body inside or outside.  I have played tennis all my life and upon moving back to Georgia about 7 years ago, I was able to join some competitive leagues and have been loving it. I am an avid water-skier, hiker, and love to cycle.  I also have always had an active dog or two for the last 22 years and that keeps me out and about, sometimes more than I prefer!  When I just have to keep in shape, I am doing Beachbody workouts at home, spinning indoors, fast twitch classes or kickboxing.  Variety is key for me when trying to stay in shape.  Last time I ran was a half marathon before leaving Ohio in 2013 and that was good enough for me to retire from running.   

My biggest fear in donating was that I wouldn’t be the same for some odd reason after the surgery, even though all the information says you will be able to do all the same stuff.  Recovery has been challenging and I decided to really listen to my body and take it much easier than I probably could have.  It has paid off but just means that it is taking longer to get my fitness back.  I feel good now over 3 months out and look forward to being back on the water and the tennis court soon. 

The most gratifying and important thing for me was that the recipient do well with my kidney.  That has been the highlight of the entire experience as she and her family got their lives back.  Her numbers are sometimes even better than mine and it is so encouraging to see my kidney kick butt for her. You can see her in the photo above with me representing the Georgia Bulldogs!  Despite some challenges with the program we went through, I would do it all again in a heartbeat. I hadn’t really thought about the fact that I entered into a new category and community as a living kidney donor and I think telling the story is important.

   

Leave a Reply