My journey to becoming a non-directed kidney donor started with an early morning bike ride in late June 2019. I was scrolling through Facebook prior to beginning my ride and one post almost jumped out of my phone. It was from a high school acquaintance, and it contained some pictures and details of how his 15-year-old daughter had just received a life-saving kidney transplant. The donor was a woman from their hometown. I was overcome with a spectrum of emotions, from gratitude to inspiration and every emotion that could fit in between. I was excited for the recipient and her parents. I was in awe and disbelief at what the living donor had done and the impact she had on the world. What an incredible gift the donor was able to give, not only to the recipient, but to the recipient’s parents, family, and friends. To me, it was the ultimate act of selflessness. If there has ever been a way to live past yourself, to live beyond yourself, herein lies the answer. As I rode that day, I experienced what I initially dismissed as a moment of emotional weakness; I was thinking about giving away a perfectly good body part. In retrospect, it soon became apparent it was more a moment of strength and clarity.
My journey came full circle several months later, on February 6, 2020, when I donated my kidney to a 53-year-old woman in Seattle, WA. As I had never met her and knew nothing about her, some would say I donated my kidney to a stranger. I prefer to view it as recycling my kidney to a lifelong friend I just haven’t met.
I am beyond excited and honored to be climbing Kilimanjaro with such a special group of athletes. Each has a unique story that led to their donation and we all have a common goal of sharing the beauty of living kidney donation.
Our climb will be an opportunity for me to meet many of these donors in person for the first time, although I consider all of them to be close friends thanks to zoom. I look so forward to sharing life stories, countless laughs, world views, and of course, one extremely unpleasant, challenging, and brutally cold summit night with 24 very special human beings.
Click on the links below to learn about my experience of being a living kidney donor. More information about living kidney donation and Kidney Donor Athletes can be found at kidneyregistry.org and kidneydonorathlete.org