My Journey to Health through Kidney Donation
Gathering the motivation to lose weight and get healthy comes in many forms. For me, it was through the opportunity to be a living kidney donor. This is my story.
In 2015, while attending my 30th high school reunion, I learned that a classmate had adult polycystic kidney disease (APKD) and would be needing a kidney transplant. I felt that at this moment my entire life made sense. I knew why I took this job as a Patient Care Technician 17 years ago. It gave me a better understanding of what people with kidney failure go through. I see it every day. I felt everything that happened in my life had to happen the way it did so I could end up at that reunion as the person I had become so that I could do this. I hadn’t seen my classmate since graduation day. We were not all that close in school, we ran in different circles, but there were some family connections there. I knew at the moment he told me he needed a kidney that I would be donating mine. This motivated me to be as healthy as I possibly could for two reasons: my recipient would get a healthy-as-could-be kidney and it would make my recovery easier.
So, four to six months before the surgery, I became really focused on my diet and really stuck to my work outs. I worked out five days a week and stuck to clean eating with one “cheat day” a week. I also drank 80-100 ounces of water a day.
I lost about 15 pounds and almost 5 inches around my waist.
On Oct. 4, 2016, I donated my left kidney. The surgery went well and two weeks post-op, I was back at the gym but just walking on the treadmill. I then started doing modified workouts at the gym. Six weeks post-op, I was back to my regular workouts and back to work full time as a Patient Care Technician in Bangor, Maine.
I will be turning 50 at the end of this year and I can honestly say that because of this decision I made to donate, I ended up in the best shape of my life! I plan to continue to stick to the workouts and eating well.
My friend and I were a match but they wanted a kidney with a higher clearance for him, so they asked if we would be willing to enter into a paired kidney donation. We were told if they didn’t find a match in three months they would do direct donation which meant he would get my kidney. This is when you have a willing donor who doesn’t match their intended recipient but is willing to donate to someone else who is in the same situation. We were matched with another pair who were also at the same hospital as my friend in Boston. We were not told anything about them and vice versa.
Not only am I doing well but so are my friend, the other donor and the other recipient! I have not yet met my recipient but have met the other donor and her two-year-old daughter. She and I were just interviewed in Boston for an informative video about paired kidney donation for future donors.