Being a runner is part of my identity and part of how I stay healthy both physically and mentally. Nine years ago when I was pregnant with my son, I learned my kidneys were failing, and I went from being a runner and athlete to trying to find the energy to get through the day.
After my son Brode was born, my kidneys stabilized for a few years and while I was still sick I was able to get through my day. When Brode was about three, my kidney function went from 40% to less than 3% in a matter of months. I had to begin dialysis and needed a kidney transplant. Just getting through my day was exhausting. I often had to “will” myself not to pass out as I climbed stairs. There was no way I could run but I missed the freedom and community that it had provided.
Shortly after I started dialysis I was blessed to have a friend donate me a kidney and I had a very successful transplant. I never realized how sick I had gotten until I woke up in ICU and felt so much better! Within a day I was walking laps (with an IV pole) around the nurses station and asking my transplant surgeon when I could run again.
Six weeks later I had the most humbling run of my life and realized how much I had lost as far as strength and stamina, but I also felt so free to be outside running again.
Since my transplant, I encourage other runners to be proud of what they accomplish whether it’s jogging a mile for the first time or competing in a marathon. As a transplant survivor and runner, I love meeting new people and encouraging them regardless of if they’ve been running for a lifetime or for a month. Somewhere in all runners is a spark that makes us want to be better and do something great.
– Samm Grace, Transplant Survivor (and Thriver!)