My Upcoming Kidney Donation (yep, I said kidney donation)

Early in 2016 I was getting ready for work, listening to an old podcast on School of Greatness. Chris Lee was being interviewed and he said something that stopped me in my tracks.

He said ‘We’re all millionaires, we just don’t know it.’ He went on to explain that there are people out there who are blind and would pay anything to see. People with failing livers and kidneys that would do anything for a healthy organ. People who are bound to wheelchairs that would give anything to be able to run. And yet we so easily take these things for granted, focus on what we don’t have, and obsess over what we think we need.

The timing was perfect for me to hear that quote. I had been contemplating whether or not it was the right time to move forward with one of the things I have always wanted to do… donate an organ. Once I heard those words from Chris Lee, I decided to go for it.

It is now just over a year later.  I have gone through hours of psychological testing and medical testing. I’ve talked with nurses, surgeons, donor advocates, and transplant coordinators.

And next month, I will be donating a kidney to a stranger.

Emerson quote-gift is portion of self (kidney)

For a long time I didn’t think I wanted to post anything on-line until after surgery for two reasons.

1 – I knew I wanted to do a donor chain and I didn’t want people coming out of the woodwork begging me to donate to someone specific. In a donor chain my one organ will lead to multiple people getting kidneys, so it feels like the most effective altruism I can do.

2 – Posting this publicly before surgery will be inviting people’s opinions. And people have OPINIONS about this. When I first started telling people close to me about my decision, a few of them got flat out angry. (I never really understood that reaction.) A fair amount of people were really supportive, a lot of people told me I was crazy, and one man teared up.  This man happened to donate a kidney to his wife just over two years ago and is healthy as can be (and so is his wife), so he got emotional.

I didn’t want to post anything publicly until the last couple weeks. I started searching Instagram for the tag #kidneydonor, and I was so happy to see other people sharing about their transplant journey. One woman was a distance runner getting ready to donate just ten days later. You can imagine how excited I was to be able to follow along with something I’ll be doing just next month!

And that’s what got me thinking. If I have the courage to post about my journey with this, maybe it will help someone else down the road be a little less scared/apprehensive/nervous about the whole thing. Sure, it may invite a whole shit storm of opinions and people trying to tell me what to do (sorry guys, this stubborn woman’s mind is made up!), but I can take it.

I’m also having a hard time keeping all the details quiet. I just found out a couple weeks ago that I actually have a person designated as my recipient now! There’s someone out there, somewhere in the United States, that knows they are a getting a kidney next month. My kidney will get flown somewhere in the country to give that person a second shot at life. Then the person that was willing to donate to them but wasn’t a compatible match will donate to someone else who needs one. Then the person who wanted to donate to them but wasn’t a match will donate to someone else, and the chain continues. I seriously can hardly wrap my head around that, even though I’ve been thinking about it for more than a year.


So my friends, that is what I have coming up. That’s why I’ve been so focused on full body fitness instead of just ramping up my running miles. I want to be as full body fit and healthy as I can so I can recovery as quickly as I can.

Thanks to those of you that have been supportive and accepting of my choice. And a special thanks to those of you that would rather I not do it, but have still been really understanding and supportive anyway. 🙂


7 Replies to “My Upcoming Kidney Donation (yep, I said kidney donation)”

  1. Tracey,
    What an amazing gift you are providing for someone. Thank you! My dad was a recipient of a heart 4 years ago. We are so thankful to Josh’s parents to make the most loving gift during one of the most difficult times of their lives. Wishing you a quick recovery.



  2. Tracey: yes, we are all millionaires and should find our way to give back. I applaud your selfless giving and support your decision. It takes courage to do what you are doing but the gift to your chain will be immeasurable.


  3. Tracey, what a staggeringly selfless act. I’m in awe of the resoluteness of your decision. Your actions and comments stir in me the consideration if I would be capable of such a gift. If I am honest, the stirring consideration is as far as it will likely get. I can see myself stepping up and being tested for someone I love, one of my nephews let’s say, but to give and not know to whom? You are an incredibly special person. Best wishes for smooth surgery and speedy recovery!


  4. Thank you so much for posting this! I’m in the process of getting tested for a kidney donation later this year. I’m also donating to a stranger and it’s wonderful to see all the other people doing it! You are such a badass 🙂


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