In June of 2015, at the age of 33 and with two young girls (four and two), I donated my left kidney to my childhood friend, Lauren.
Our parents met when we were babies and our families have been close ever since. Lauren received her first donated kidney from her mom at the age of 9. That kidney lasted 24 years before it became apparent that she would soon need another. I had always known Lauren would need another kidney, but I never actually thought it would come from me! In early 2015 we found out that Lauren’s sister was not going to be a suitable candidate for living donation, and the family launched a Facebook page to raise awareness and start the search for a donor. At the same time, I began to quietly consider whether or not I should look into being Lauren’s donor myself.
Fast forward a few months to May of 2015. By this point, I had already undergone all of the required testing and was just waiting to hear if I was going to be selected as Lauren’s donor (there was at least one other person being tested as well). As it turns out, I was as close of a “match” as someone unrelated to Lauren could be—it was meant to be. Our surgeries were performed on June 16, 2015, at Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, PA, just a short distance from where we both live in central PA. Lauren’s body accepted my kidney and we both continue to be healthy today, almost seven years later.
At the time of my donation, I was playing on a few softball teams and running regularly. I had done a few half marathons and 10-milers before my girls were born, but at this point, was mostly running for exercise—with a few 5ks and 10ks sprinkled in here and there. Eight weeks post-donation, not only was I back to running but I was asked to help coach the high school field hockey team in the school district where I teach 6th grade. I did that for two seasons before my 3rd daughter was born in the fall of 2017. Like my previous two pregnancies, the 3rd was a breeze. Having only one kidney had zero effect on my pregnancy.
In the Spring of 2018, I decided to get back into running more seriously and signed up for a half marathon. It had been 10 years since the last time I ran one. I had a great race, coming close to my 10-year-old PR, and immediately signed up for another. Around this same time, I also started attending group fitness classes three times a week at a local gym. Six months later, I ran another half and dropped 5 minutes from my previous time.
I’ve now run seven half marathons since donating my kidney, and I have no plans to stop. I’ve also had a second post-donation baby (yes, that makes 4 kids!) and started coaching middle school cross country at my school. I was 10 weeks pregnant when I ran my last half in the spring of 2021, and my son will be almost 6 months old when I run my next in May of 2022. Other than my kids, donating my kidney is the thing I am most proud of. I am the healthiest (and most active) that I’ve ever been, and I am thankful for that every day.