On my 35th birthday, I was a normal and healthy adult. Or so I thought.Over the next year, I slowly began to get sick. It was so gradual, and I did not think much of it. I just thought they were signs of getting old. Six months after my 35th birthday, the new symptoms were starting to show up and they were alarming, but not alarming enough to see a doctor. By my 36th birthday, I was so sick, but I still refused to see a doctor. Friends and family were concerned, but I shined it off. Two months after my 36th birthday, I was so sick I could barely walk, breath, eat, or drink. I finally had enough and went to see a doctor on March 5th, 2009 at 3pm. They drew blood and sent me on my way. At 9pm that night, I received a call from the hospital. I was told I had complete kidney failure and I needed to report to the emergency room right away. My kidney function was down to 5% and I had major blood loss. 6am the next morning, I had a temporary catheter inserted in my neck. Three hours later, I had my first dialysis treatment, along with a blood transfusion.
It was a scary time for me. It was an all-time low. I thought my life was over. I just found out I had kidney failure and I thought I was going to die as a dialysis patient. One day after my diagnosis, I accepted my illness and I was ready to do everything I could to survive and live a great life on dialysis. While I was in the hospital, friends and family members came forward to offer me a kidney. My brother, Dustin was one of them. After nine months of dialysis, I received the greatest gift ever. Dustin donated his spare kidney so I could have a second chance at life. I am forever grateful for what he did to save my life. I will never take this gift for granted.
While I was in the hospital recovering from the transplant, I wrote a 20-item bucket list. The first item on the bucket list is to hike to the peak of Mount Whitney. At 14,495 feet, it is the highest peak in the continental United States. Along with two good friends, I accomplished that feat just eight months after the transplant. Eight months after Whitney, I ran my first half marathon. On the three-year anniversary, I marked off the next bucket list item by running my first full marathon. Six and a half years post transplant, I completed 24 full marathons in 14 states and two continents, and 45 half marathons in seven states. I am on a personal mission to run a marathon in all fifty states and seven continents, while raising awareness for organ donation.
I started running so I could mark the marathon off my bucket list. Along the way, I fell in love with running. I love challenging my body and my mind, while exploring the great outdoors. It makes me feel so alive. It reminds me that I have a special gift inside me that I will never take for granted. More importantly, I run for others. I love to inspire others to get healthy and make the most of their lives. I run to raise awareness for organ donation. We currently have over 120,000 patients in the United States awaiting that second chance at life. Each person that registers as an organ donor has the potential to save eight lives.
The second photo is Six and half years post transplant. My brother is wearing 80 medals I earned with his kidney.