Meet Kidney Donor Athlete, Mandy!

I donated a kidney to my Mom on October 26th, 2011 and October is a very big month for my family as we celebrate our 10-year Kidneyversary!! 

I donated at the age of 29 and I had already had one child, my son Jude. My mom has the hereditary disease of Polycystic Kidney disease (PKD). She had five sisters and out of all six of them, four had the same disease. Very sadly two of her sisters succumbed to the disease and complications related to it. Unfortunately, neither of them had a kidney donation. 

When my mom’s health declined to such a state that she needed a donation it was an absolute no-brainer for me and my sister to want to donate to her. As I was the eldest and had already had a child the doctors wanted to test me first plus, my sister was on an overseas vacation at the time of testing. My tests, which took over a year to complete, came back as a 99% match. You have to be in great physical health and obviously not have any kidney-related issues yourself to be considered as a donor. Everything checked out and we went ahead with the surgery. 

I will admit I was not in the least bit afraid or fearful up until the night before surgery. I had never had any type of surgery before this and I was petrified. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to donate it was that I was worried about the procedure. Turns out I had nothing to worry about, it all went perfectly!  

They took my right kidney and they didn’t do keyhole surgery but rather the long cut and I must say I am rather proud of it! I do not have any tattoos but I wear my kidney donation scar with pride. I left the hospital after three days and had a month of recovery at home.  

I would not call myself an athlete before I donated, I was always active with some or other group classes but I couldn’t say I was an ‘athlete’. 

I will say that post-donation, I have taken a very keen and intentional interest in my health and working out. I think there is a paradigm shift that happens in your mind and you realize how precious your life is and how your health is your only true wealth in life. 

Besides having an annual kidney check-up, I live a completely normal life without any limitations or complications. I also had my second child after the kidney donation at the age of 33 with absolutely no issues at all. The only precaution I took was checking kidney function throughout my pregnancy and it functioned perfectly. 

I am very active and just completed Andy Frisella’s “75 Hard” mental toughness program which requires two 45 minute workouts per day, one of which must be outdoors and I have now moved onto Phase 1 of the program. At the age of 39 and two children later I have never been in such great physical shape! 

I would donate again in a heartbeat if I could as I have seen first-hand how you literally give someone their life back. It was only fitting that I gave life back to my amazing mother who birthed me mine. 

My mom has had some speed bumps on the way, the donated kidney took two weeks to start working and she had a bad reaction to some of the medication. Once that all got ironed she had some issues with her urethra which has also been seen to. Her two own kidneys with all the cysts on give her all her current health issues as they never removed them as just “in case” the donated kidney ever had to reject she would need to go onto dialysis. These kidneys of her own are very troublesome and the cysts have leaked and caused her to land up very sick in the hospital.

Throughout all these tribulations the donated kidney has just kept right on working and doing an amazing job! My Mom has gone through it all and still smiles and loves life! My Mom has the biggest and loudest laugh – I wish you could all hear it! It would make you want to laugh! She has been my true hero, the positivity and zest for life that she embodies is a gift for us all to behold and her love of life is so contagious! She is a woman of such strong faith and I admire her so much for it.  

We celebrate each Kidneyversary as her second birthday because that is what it is! It is her second chance at life and she embraces each day of it – how blessed we are to still have her with us for these extra 10 years! 

I wish I could give her the biggest hug on our special day but I can’t as I live in the USA now and she is at home in South Africa and sadly I can’t travel home at this time due to some visa admin issues. 

Please help me wish her a Happy and Healthy 10-year Kidneyversary!! 

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