**Heads up – there are some pictures of real kidneys in here. If you’re super squeamish please skip this altogether, or be prepared to scroll real fast past those.**

Dear Soon-to-be kidney donor,

First off, congratulations on pursuing one of the kindest acts a person can ever do – donating a kidney!

Secondly, I am glad you found Kidney Donor Athletes! You have found a community of people that will accept you, lift you up, and help you through this process. Welcome! šŸ™‚

I’m guessing you have lots of unsolicited advice coming your way right now, right? I have one more piece of advice for you, but it comes from personal experience and the benefit of having talked with literally hundreds of donors.

The best thing you can do in your preparation for recovery is to not compare your recovery with someone else’s.

That’s it.

At KDA we’ve shared nearly 100 people’s stories of donation and recovery. Each one is vastly different, and each one is celebrated.

As you ask your body to recover from a truly BIG change, please have grace. Please know that your body’s feedback is your ultimate guide through this, not a post from a stranger that bounced back quickly. Your body let a surgeon peel organs apart to snip one out and put it in another person. That’s beautiful, amazing, and a LOT.

If there was ever a time to let your competitive nature sit in the backseat, it’s now. Recovery is not a race.

I get it, you want to feel like your pre-surgery self. You want to have some proof that you’ll get back to 100%. That uncertainty can be incredibly hard to sit with!

Have faith that you’ll get there. Pushing your post-op limits could very easily push your ‘normal’ out even further. Enjoy a walk, read a book, send some hand written letters to older relatives and friends that would be thrilled to hear from you. You have the time right now. šŸ™‚

Please respect your body and yourself for making this brave choice to become a donor. Let yourself walk slowly. Let yourself take naps. Let yourself keep the abdominal binder on longer than you thought you’d need it. Let yourself take a break from thinking you’re always being evaluated and judged. No one is judging you right now. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

You likely have people that are celebrating the hell out of you! If you already donated, remember the celebration you received just for peeing and farting after the surgery? Ride that wave, my friend. Your neighbors probably want to come outside and cheer when they see you walk around the block!

To many people you are a living, breathing unicorn. Not enough people know that living donation is even possible – you’re blowing minds just by existing!

The KDA community is a mash-up of every kind of athlete out there, and they’re all here to rally around you. It makes no difference if they walk three times a week around the neighborhood, or if they’ve climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. They are all just people. People who have saved lives and want to support others that are also passionate about saving lives and making the world a better place.

So please, soon-to-be donor, donating your kidney is not the kind of thing you want to go into with a measuring stick. There are no strict guidelines for your recovery besides those that your transplant team gives you. There is endless room for grace, compassion, and flexibility. You may not have any other time in your life to slow down like this and heal! Accept it, savor it, and know that setting a timeline is unnecessary. Your body knows what it needs and what it doesn’t, so listen.

And by the way, welcome to the most amazing community you will ever belong to!

Thanks for listening to even more unsolicited advice. All of us at KDA want you to feel accepted, celebrated, and at home with us.

Warm wishes to you and best of luck in your upcoming kidney donation,

Tracey Hulick, President, and Founder of Kidney Donor Athletes, Inc.


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