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Racing After Kidney Donation | Troy Soares

"Will I be able to race long distances again? Endure the heat and hills of the Wildflower Long Course? Even the Hawaii Ironman?" The thoughts were there, but after praying about it, I felt the answer would be more "Yes" than "No." I came to realize it depended more on what Christ wanted to do through me than on any side effects of donating a kidney.

It really wasn't a hard decision. Ever since my best friend told me in 1993 that his two-year-old son had a life-threatening disease, I'd wanted to do something. A couple years before that, I was there, celebrating with my best friend after the birth of his son. We were both 23 years old. His baby boy was the coolest thing since our High School days. As the years went by, I saw the effects of Alport Syndrome degrading his hearing, growing, and endurance; but what a great kid. He called me "Uncle Troy" and each time I raced the Hawaii Ironman, he came with his parents to watch me.

Bobby's parents spent a lot of quality time with him. They knew his time with them was uncertain. In 2009, his kidneys were failing him. His dad told me that he needed a transplant and they had been looking but no family members were possible candidates. Immediately it all became clear. I never knew it was a kidney disease and that it would disappear with a new kidney. I felt like the Lord was unveiling this opportunity and telling me "you were always unsure how to help; I've made it easy for you now."

Right away, my wife and I prayed about it and the possible effects on our two precious little girls. I could save my kidneys for a daughter. But I had never met a kidney donor, so I, too, would most likely finish life holding on to both kidneys. Here was an opportunity to give to someone in need. But if I donated, I could suffer ill health. I could even die.

In the midst of making such a big decision, the most important thing was what God was putting on our hearts: You can't really experience the blessings that come with having faith unless you do something requiring faith. And that "no greater love is shown than when a man lays down his life for a friend" (John 15:13).

My wife was fully supportive and I immediately began testing for a match. There are many factors to being a good match besides blood type, but—thanks be to God—I was a perfect candidate. There were still close friends and family members who wanted us to reconsider; even triathletes who told me I could forget about doing Ironmans again. But one day my doctor put me in touch with another donor. He was an ultra-cyclist and he was riding as well as ever and enjoying life since giving his kidney.

In July, 2009, I went for a morning run before Bobby and I, along with our families, met at the transplant hospital. He was just out of High School, his kidney function was now down to almost zero, and EPO was the only thing giving him enough red blood cells to stay alive. Yet he was the polite, cheerful kid I always knew. Bobby knew God would take care of him. We all prayed and I felt completely at peace and appreciative to have this opportunity.

The surgeries were successful and immediately Bobby's complexion starting showing color for first time in years as the new kidney helped restore his blood. Eighteen-year-old Bobby recovered faster than anyone expected, and in about a month we were both able to jog.

I had some difficulties during recovery but soon was back to biking and running with a goal of Wildflower in eight months. In fact, I was on my way to better health because of things I learned through the exhaustive tests they do during candidate selection. They found a hernia and fixed it and they found a blot clotting abnormality which meant I needed to stay active—an encouragement to continue as a triathlete.

Last year I completed the Wildflower Long Course with one kidney operating at the capacity of two. Bobby grew 3" since surgery, started college, was down to 2 medications, and could now do strenuous activity. The whole ordeal has been such a great blessing. I feel like I've lost nothing and gained everything. For this, I thank my Savior, Jesus Christ. He is faithful and knows what really brings me joy. Yes, I will be able to endure the heat and hills of Wildflower, because through Him all things are possible.

29 comments (Add your own)

1. Tom Gale wrote:
Troy-- Thank you for sharing your amazing experience. I plan to share this with the Huntsville, AL huddle.

Sun, April 24, 2011 @ 2:24 PM

2. Ginger Ropka wrote:
Troy, what an inspiration. Your story brings tears to my eyes. I applaud your courage. What an awesome thing you did for your friend and his son.

Sun, May 22, 2011 @ 4:51 AM

3. Gary Armstrong wrote:
I donated a kidney to my sister in 2005. I have run 2 marathons and 12 triathlons in the last 2 years. I do have a question. Do you hydrate any different now with one kidney than you did with two while you are competing and training for triathlons?

Sat, July 23, 2011 @ 8:33 PM

4. Anthony wrote:
My brother donated one of is kidney on June 16 2011 and I can relate to your story. We are planning to continue living an active lifestyle and one day compete in a Ironman ford championship in Hawaii.
Thanks, great story

Tue, August 9, 2011 @ 8:55 AM

5. Cheryl Fortuin wrote:
Troy your story was my inspiration and what kept me motivated and positove that I will be able to resume my marathon and ultra marathon running post my kidney donation...I have always believed that I will still be able to it after the operation but I still wanted to hear from someone who has actually done it and are living proof and in my search I came upon this site and your story...I do believe it was Divine intervention as I had asked God to give me a sign of sorts.....I donated a kidney to my sis in June 2015....23days after I ran my 1st Comrades Jan 2016 I ran my 1st marathon....much slower than my average, but within 5hrs....and a few others follow...I ran my 2nd Comrades marathon (89km) 11months after my operation in June 2016 and completed it in 10h37...few minutes faster than last year! All praise to God!

Tue, October 18, 2016 @ 12:32 PM

6. Apostolos Dervas wrote:
Great story, great man.
It is my intention to donate a kidney to a good close friend with a huge health issue
but also an even bigger heart. She has a beautiful little girl and a great husband.
Having reached the level to run Half Marathons, I do not want to lose this but
still it is not going to prevent me from donating.


PS: The only thing making me nervous, is the fact that Greece is not exactly
top of the list regarding experience in transplantations. Yet I hope for the best

Mon, January 30, 2017 @ 3:28 AM

7. Tina Stewart wrote:
Praise God for your story!!
I felt the calling and stepped out in faith to donate my kidney to a friend on 08/07/17. My recovery has been nothing short of AMAZING and at 2 weeks I started running again. I am now 3 1/2 weeks post op and will be running 10 miles on Saturday while training for my 5th 1/2 this year in 2 weeks!! I feel incredibly blessed that I feel so great and was able to get back into my active lifestyle. I get some negative comments here and there that I shouldn't be doing it so soon but I'm not pushing myself and I'm being smart. I think one day I will complete an Ironman. It's beyond my comprehension how God chooses us for extraordinary things. If we are faithful to his callings he blesses us in ways we never expected.
We serve an amazing God

Thu, August 31, 2017 @ 10:16 AM

8. Michael Blake wrote:
Thank you for your story.
I donated a kidney to a good friend and the coach of the running club I run with on January 9. I have been running now for two weeks and have built up to 4 miles. I have run 24 marathons including Chicago Oct 8 and New York Nov 5 in 2017. I also plan on running another marathon and I am feeling great now 5 weeks after the surgery. I am trying to not push it for 6 months so my one kidney can grow and built up to 70 to 80 % effectiveness of what my two kidneys were but after the 6 months I plan on training as hard as I did before my donation. I am turning 54 so my times are slowing down anyway and I hope the kidney donation does slow me down any more, but if it does donating a kidney to my running friend who is doing great will be well worth it. I feel blessed I was able to help a friend out.

Fri, February 16, 2018 @ 11:07 AM

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