Meet Kidney Donor Athlete, Avie!

The moment I learned that my cousin needed a kidney transplant, I knew I wanted to be his donor. It was difficult to speak up right away though. My second baby was just 8 months old and showing signs of modest developmental delays. Although her situation wasn’t dire (and has since been resolved, thankfully), I was completely overwhelmed. I was still recovering from my second C-section (third abdominal surgery overall) and parenting my younger child didn’t feel natural yet. I wasn’t myself and I wasn’t able to offer my kidney just then. 

Yoga has been a constant throughout my entire adult life. I was introduced to yoga right after college, and even though I’m not naturally all that coordinated or flexible, yoga spoke to me immediately. Even after my first class, back in 2002, I remember telling my roommate I thought it would be fun to be a yoga teacher. Finally, in 2016, I took the plunge and completed my yoga teacher certification. I sing yoga’s praises all the time. I always hope that someone new to yoga joins my class and I love when they come back for more. I truly believe that every person can benefit from yoga, from athletes with tight muscles who need a way to stretch out to someone who needs the quiet meditation.   

When I was ready to offer my kidney to my cousin, COVID hit. The process was complicated. Everything from scheduling appointments, figuring out how to get tested for COVID, waiting for negative results, and finalizing childcare plans in a way that seemed safe for all involved added a level of stress I could never have expected. Thankfully, despite the hurdles, I was able to successfully give my cousin my kidney on October 28, 2020. His new kidney began working right away. 

Even though the surgery was a success, I found recovery very difficult. I had quite a bit of pain and was easily frustrated. I had planned to return to teaching yoga by Thanksgiving, but by the week before, it was obvious I wasn’t ready. Not only that, I had a sadness fall over me in those weeks that was difficult to explain. I wasn’t depressed in the clinical sense, but I was sad. I knew I did something so unique and extraordinary, so why was I so blue? Between losing weeks of yoga, and not being able to lift my children, I felt like I had lost all of my strength.

Finally, I called my yoga teacher and asked her if we could do a “masks-on private session.” In the midst of our session, I felt the sadness lift off me. Despite my years long love affair with yoga, I would never—not in a million years—expected that lack of yoga was my source of sadness. After a few more weeks of practicing with teachers, I was ready to teach again. By December 13, less than 2 months after my surgery, I was back to teaching my regular class schedule. It has been such a relief to know that yoga—something I love and respect so much—could heal me so quickly and completely.  

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