My name is Emily, and I have never been a mountain climber. In fact, I have a very vivid memory of the summer of 2008, when I was interning in Uganda: I went with a group of friends to climb a small mountain (more of a hill, really). At that time, I was not at all physically active, and I was unable to complete the hike.

Emily Monterosso One Kidney Climb - Kidney Donor Athletes

My fitness journey began as a result of my kidney donation in January 2019. I worked very hard in the leadup to the surgery to lose weight and become physically fit enough to recover well from surgery. I found that I enjoyed the challenge, and continued to work on my fitness after the acute recovery period was over.

While I don’t live in an area with mountains to hike in preparation for this climb, I have spent time hiking with friends and am hopeful that my foundational fitness, extra training in the leadup to the climb, determination, and the support of my team will be enough to help me summit Kilimanjaro.

My goal in participating in this climb is to show normal people that their bodies are amazing. You don’t have to be an ultra-marathoner to recover well from kidney donation, and even those who have not always been fit can donate a kidney and achieve outstanding milestones like summiting the largest freestanding mountain in the world. My major hope is that this mission inspires even one person who otherwise wouldn’t have considered kidney donation to do so. One more life saved will make this worthwhile. 

More stories about Emily’s journey: Inside Edition: Car Sign Leads to Donate Kidney; WXYZ Detroit: Campaign for kidney donor goes viral and leads to gift of life.

To learn more about being a living kidney donor, visit Kidney Donor Registry for more information.

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