Meet Kidney Donor Athlete, Jenelle!

In 2015 my Aunt shared a Facebook story of a man in my area who had taken to making signs for his car looking for a kidney donor. He got a news feature. I thought it was a sweet story & moved on. But his story kept tugging at me and I researched the donation process. I figured if anyone could keep one kidney healthy, it was me. I was healthy, active, vegan for five years, and a Dietitian.

I applied to donate to him but was not a match so I donated non-directed and had them find a match for me. I was also very fortunate to work for a company that offered six weeks of paid time off for the purpose of donation.  

Recovery was smooth. I knew it was important to walk as tolerated. I also made some of my now best friends through a meal train I set up for myself as I was fairly new to the area I lived in. I am more active now than previously, not because of surgery, but because I have prioritized my long-term health.

I run a bed & breakfast so I am tied to the house most of the time so we created a home gym in our garage with a treadmill, spin bike & weights. I’m a fan of Peloton and use their strength classes, barre, pilates, yoga, stretching & even meditation. When we travel or can get away, hiking is my favorite activity with my husband. I also enjoy yoga & recently had the wonderful experience of yoga on the beach in Hawaii.

I am also currently training for my second half marathon in Disney World this coming January.  I make sure to prioritize hydration & avoid vitamin C supplements but otherwise would forget about surgery altogether if it weren’t for my scar.  

I just connected with my recipient who is not what I envisioned. We had exchanged a couple of letters over the years screened through the transplant center. I pictured an elderly man. He’s a young man! Five years younger than me. He had been on dialysis for three years. I am so happy to have given him a second chance at living a full life. I tell people if I had a regenerating kidney, I would do this over & over again.  

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