I know many people can say that running changed their lives, but it changed mine in ways one would never imagine! If I hadn’t taken up running back in 2013, I would never have met Tracy. And if I hadn’t met Tracy, it is not likely that I would be a living kidney donor today!
Tracy and I met back in 2015 at a local track training session – we became fast friends and continued to run together over the next several years. Unfortunately, Tracy’s health started to decline in 2018 and after quite a few tests and doctor visits they finally determined that her kidney function was in decline. She completed many rounds of medications to try to help reverse the effects of her failing kidney, but to no avail. Late in 2019, it became apparent that she would need a new kidney in order to regain her health and fitness and to avoid dialysis. Her husband posted a plea for a donor on Facebook, and I knew instantly that I was being called to answer. Without hesitation, I completed the form to become a donor for Tracy.
Much to my surprise, I was identified as a potential match for Tracy and after a couple of weeks’ worth of tests and physical exams in early 2020, I was approved for a direct kidney donation to Tracy! It was both exciting and terrifying at the same time. Up to this point I had never had surgery for any reason, and while I didn’t hesitate even for a moment to commit to the surgery, I was definitely nervous. Our surgery was scheduled for March 4, 2020, and went off without a hitch!
My recovery was amazing – I rested for several days but was feeling good enough four days after surgery to attend my sister’s baby shower! Over the next couple of weeks, I would walk a mile or two around my neighborhood each day and continued to feel better daily. I eased back into running just three weeks after the donation and then ran a half marathon on May 16th! It was such a great feeling to be back to “normal” and able to run, hike and bike again.
Tracy’s health improved immediately and once she healed completely from her transplant she was also back to running and feeling great! We decided to celebrate our one-year “kidneyversary” on March 4, 2021, by hiking the Grand Canyon together. We spent that day with close friends hiking to the bottom of the canyon and back up, and both of us felt amazing. It was an incredible experience and such a great way to honor our journey together.
To this day Tracy and I run, hike and bike together, and our donation celebration in 2022 will be to complete a half ironman! We cannot wait to train together and tackle this new adventure together. Neither of us has ever done a half ironman, but we know that we will be there together and see each other through to the finish.
Many people have asked if I regret having donated my kidney, or if I would have done anything different looking back on the experience. My answer is always no! I do not regret any part of the journey since completing the potential donor form. And I would do it again in a heartbeat. It has been the most incredible experience and knowing that I was able to help a dear friend is priceless. Thankfully I was able to recover quickly, return to my pre-donation activities without issue, and have no dietary or physical restrictions as a result. I will tell anyone considering donating a kidney to go for it – it is life-changing in the best way!
Awesome story, Courtney! I’m glad I saw your plate in Prescott today!