Meet Kidney Donor Athletes, Kristine and Brian!

We’re a team. In everything we do…TeamFrost! 

Hello everyone, we have been lurking in the shadows for a while now and figured it was time to introduce ourselves. We are Kristine and Brian Frost, also known as TeamFrost. 

Two strangers. Two years. Two surgeries. And four lives changed for the better.  

Back in December 2018, Kristine woke up at 4:00 am and saw a Facebook post, John’s Kidney Kampaign, about a stranger in need of a kidney. It was an interesting read where we discovered you do not have to be related to a person to donate a kidney. Kristine was immediately interested and of course, Brian not to be outdone agreed to look into it with her. 

We didn’t know it then but TeamFrost would be down two kidneys in just a matter of time.  After all, if we could donate, why wouldn’t we? Not to mention, we’re both fairly competitive. 

TeamFrost met back in the summer of 2012 at a training camp where we were both training for Ironman races. Brian, a multiple Ironman finisher, seasoned athlete, and overall nice guy, saw Kristine struggling during the camp’s 100-mile ride. Kristine was an amateur athlete, certainly not a cyclist, and definitely wasn’t prepared for 10,000 feet of climbing. So, Brian stayed back and helped Kristine as she was less than three weeks from her Ironman attempt.  

We became friends, but nothing more than that until one fateful evening a few years later when the stars aligned and Brian admitted he had a ‘crush’ on Kristine. It wasn’t Ironman, marathons, or anything athletic that brought TeamFrost together. It was a shared passion for helping others that really sealed the deal. From teaching folks how to repair bikes, to helping folks get jobs, to charitable contributions and fundraising, helping others has fueled TeamFrost from the beginning. 

It is no wonder that when given the opportunity, we both would donate kidneys without hesitation. Once decided to pursue donation, we looked for resources to answer all of our kidney donation athlete questions. It was then that we found Kidney Donor Athletes. We reached out to see what it was all about and were both immediately welcomed with open arms and a wealth of support. 

 
We were both tested and both matched the individual who had created the Facebook post in search of a kidney. Brian was a slightly better match and moved forward with the testing but the transplant team kept Kristine in hand in case he was disqualified. Brian’s testing went well and he was approved and cleared for surgery. However, it took exactly two years before the transplant would occur due to other complications for the recipient. 

After Brian was matched and cleared, the transplant team told Kristine, thank you for your interest but they were going to use Brian’s kidney. In response, Kristine, who had gathered an abundance of information about the need for living donors replied… “Doesn’t someone need my kidney?” The team was rather dumbfounded. They had never had anyone go from being a direct donor to wanting to be a non-directed donor. That brought up a quandary of how to proceed.   

Do they start a chain? Do they look within their program? Do they reach out to neighboring hospitals? They decided to look at the highly sensitized patients within their program. It took a few weeks but Kristine was paired to one of the highly sensitized patients whose chance of finding a match was 1 in 1,000.  Kristine wanted to remain anonymous until after the surgery.  With the match likely, they called the recipient in to “update his bloodwork”, which in fact was a blood draw for the cross-match test. The test was a success so the team reaffirmed with Kristine that she wanted to move forward before notifying the recipient that they had a living donor kidney available. Of course, Kristine said YES! The team then called the recipient to let them know. Sitting in his chair, at dialysis…on his birthday, he received the call, letting him know he had a matched living donor kidney. “This adventure was turning into a Hallmark story!“ 

Kristine and John

Kristine’s donation occurred in December 2019 and both Kristine and her recipient are doing great. Two days after the surgeries, Kristine and her recipient John met in the hospital. It was an exciting yet apprehensive meeting. What do you say? What do you do? What are they like? A million questions run through your mind. All the anxiety was for nothing, it was wonderful meeting John and his family and we stay in touch and check in with each other often. 

Despite the initial discomfort and fatigue that comes with kidney donation, Kristine dove back into her cardio routine and was able to do a 5K at the one-month post-surgical mark, a 10K at two months, and a half marathon at 3 months. 

Though 2019 and 2020, Brian was anxiously waiting for his donation. We had met the recipient at one of their fundraising/awareness events in mid-2019 and we were aware of the medical challenge that they had and were addressing which needed to be addressed before the donation could move forward.   

There were several starts and stops which turned the waiting into an emotional rollercoaster event. Still excited with the prospect of donating, Brian struggled with the fear that something could go wrong and the transplant might not take place. Finally, in October 2020, we got the go-ahead for the donation surgery…only to have it put back on hold for more testing. The testing results reassured John’s surgeon and we once again were scheduled for the donation surgery.

  

Brian and John

On December 2nd, 2020, Brian donated his kidney to the author of the Facebook post which we saw exactly two years earlier on 12/02/2018. The surgery went well and the kidney went from Brian to its new home, where it made itself comfortable and got to work immediately. After a few days of lounging in the less than comfortable bed and forcing down the truck-stop quality food, Brian got to come home. 


About 21 hours later, Brian went back to the hospital via the ER due to an infection and a bit of pneumonia. If being back in the hospital wasn’t bad enough, Brian was put into Covid lockdown due to changes in his bloodwork with matched the changes they see in Covid patients. One of the big markers? You guessed it, a marked decrease in kidney function. DUH, after donating a kidney, one would expect a drop in kidney function, wouldn’t they? After four more days in solitary, Brian was released and came home once again. Since coming home, his recovery has progressed and Brian is back to daily workouts. Mostly walks/runs on the treadmill and, after six weeks, he got the OK to ride the bike trainer. 

When we got home from the hospital, we found these signs scattered across our lawn. Our initial reaction was, as most of you know, we are not heroes. Just doing what we can to help others. We found out later that the signs were done by John’s fraternity brothers. It just goes to show how far an act of kindness can go and how many people it can touch. 

 

When asked why we donated to strangers, the answer is simple: why wouldn’t we?  It’s just in our nature. 

TeamFrost continues to advocate and educate on living kidney donation through our networks. We’ve found the triathlete community to be a great audience for it too. 


 
So what’s next for TeamFrost? 

 
I’m sure whatever it is, it will be a competitive adventure. 

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