Have you ever met someone and you know right away they are a genuine, good person? This happened when I met my friend Kevin back in 2016. At the time, Kevin was living a full, active life and had previously received a kidney transplant from his college baseball coach in 2011. I was also living an active lifestyle attending early morning boot-camp classes, hiking with my dog Charlie, playing tennis, and running and biking outside.
In 2017, Kevin and I both moved to other states to pursue graduate school. I continued my active lifestyle while Kevin’s transplanted kidney lost most of it’s function and he had to return to dialysis. That summer I trained hard and ran my first ten-mile road race. In the fall of 2019, during my second year of graduate school, I was scrolling through my Instagram and saw that Kevin posted that he was in need of a new kidney. As soon as I saw the post I knew I was going to try and be a match.
In spring of 2020, right as the world was shutting down for Covid-19, I was told I was not a direct match for Kevin. I was heartbroken because I thought the journey was over. Little did I know, it was just getting started. We decided to go forward with the paired donor exchange program and got not 1, not 2, but 3 surgery dates until finally our surgery took place on 03/24/2021.
The surgeon that removed my kidney told me my kidney was a “first round draft pick” and I have never felt so proud. That day, our surgeries were part of paired donor chain and 7 people were able to get healthy kidneys. I bought a treadmill prior to surgery and once I was home, I got up and walked a little bit everyday and each day I was able to walk longer and move faster. After 3 weeks, I returned to work full-time.
The Kidney donor athlete page was a huge inspiration and encouragement to me while I was healing. Running did not come back as smoothly as I would have hoped, but I was patient with my body and joined a rowing gym instead, which I have fallen in love with. I continue to live an active lifestyle, but now with a new sense of appreciation for my body and how strong it really is.
I just had my 6-month follow-up appointment and I am feeling great! I am now more aware of my water intake and what I put into my body and do not take my health for granted. Donating my kidney was the best decision I have made thus far in my life and I hope to continue to be an advocate for other kidney donor athletes.