On Jan 2nd, 2020, I became an Altruistic Kidney Donor. It was an honor to pay it forward in such a way and have the ability to become someone’s answered prayer.
My aunt in Kentucky needed a kidney, and I started the donor process. Before I could get very far, my uncle put up a billboard with a phone number seeking donors and a total stranger called it. Next thing you know a month later he was a match and he then went on to donate his kidney to her. I was so struck by this man’s selflessness and, after researching the impact a single altruistic donor can make in the cascade, I decided to continue my process to see if I could become a donor as well and to pay forward the gift he gave. Also, I wanted to send a message to my teenage daughters that in this day of division and “cancel-culture”, I was donating a kidney to someone who I knew nothing about: not their politics, their race, nothing.
Before my surgery, I have led a very active lifestyle. In 2016, I completed the Ironman Triathlon in Tempe, Arizona. Also, I have completed three Tough Mudder Races, so health and fitness are a big part of my life. Scuba diving is also a passion and I have over 75 dives including the Blue Hole in Belize and the night dive with the giant Manta Rays in Kona, Hawaii.
To quote Will Smith, “danger can be real, but fear is a choice”. I was in the best possible hands of the people at the Mayo in Phoenix. Everyone in the process put me at ease. So my decision to be without fear was an easy one.
Post-surgery, the recovery was very quick. I spent just over 31 hours in the hospital from the time I walked into the Mayo Hospital in Phoenix until I was discharged. Thanks to being in good shape before and I must say a big help was acupuncture to improve my healing process.
I began to ease my way back into bodyweight-only exercise and treadmill walking after 4 weeks. By March 1, which was 8 weeks post-op, I began incorporating some light weight lifting. I listened to my body and forced myself to go slow, which took more discipline than I thought. By 12 weeks I was back in Krav and BJJ. It’s anecdotal but I truly believe the acupuncture treatments before and after surgery assisted greatly in my healing and return of energy. In Chinese medicine, the kidney is the “battery of the body”.
I know the pounding running takes on the joints and the inability to take anti-inflammatories from now on, I have retired from the triathlon world and now have a new passion – Krav Maga and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. My school is Alpha Krav Maga in Scottsdale, Arizona and it’s kept me not only in shape post-surgery but has been vital in strengthening my mental health, especially during all this Corona craziness.
My life has forever changed as a result of my donation and I was honored to receive a card and letter from my recipient in September. In this current day of division, it’s heart-warming and faith-restoring to know that there are still those who are happy to give and those who are grateful to receive.
I would encourage someone to do all the research and if they are healthy and fit, active in various athletic hobbies now, they can and will be again after becoming a donor. Personally, I was never really someone who got worked up over the “little things” before my donation, and it’s been reinforced this year. Since my year started so positively and I pushed fear completely aside to have the honor to help someone in need, I have often felt like a stranger in a strange world in 2020, which has been wonderful!