As an emergency medical professional at FirstHealth of the Carolinas, stamina athlete and nameless kidney donor Matthew Harmody, M.D. has hardly ever been one to shy absent from challenging, impactful work.
His subsequent obstacle combines physical fortitude and dwelling kidney donation advocacy as he joins 21 other kidney donors to climb the world’s biggest freestanding mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania, Africa.
The One particular Kidney Climb is coordinated by the non-earnings firm Kidney Donor Athletes (KDA) to bring consideration to the have to have for dwelling kidney donors and demonstrate that one can donate a kidney and nevertheless dwell a wholesome and lively way of life. The team is scheduled to reach Mount Kilimanjaro’s summit — 19,341 toes earlier mentioned sea degree — on Earth Kidney Day, March 10.
“The will need for donor kidneys is great,” claimed Harmody.
In accordance to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) far more than 97,000 men and women in the United States are on the waiting list for a kidney transplant. Extra than 3,000 people are included to the checklist each thirty day period.
With significantly far more clients on the waitlist than donors, an common of 13 people today die just about every working day ready for a kidney.
“Kidney donation is a lifesaving remedy solution when an individual goes into renal failure, meaning the kidneys have shut down and can no longer filter waste,” Harmody stated. “After a effective kidney transplant, most sufferers can return to their functions and continue each day everyday living.”
Sufferers can receive a kidney from a living donor or a balanced human being who passed away unexpectedly, as in a vehicle accident. Residing donor kidneys are favored, as there is considerably less possibility of rejection by the recipient’s overall body. On top of that, the KDA stories that only 3 in 1,000 registered organ donors die in a way that will allow for organ donation.
If no donor kidney is out there for transplant, the only other treatment method choice is dialysis, a procedure that mechanically removes squander from the physique. Patient and their caregivers travel to a dialysis center quite a few instances each individual 7 days, and just about every session lasts several several hours.
“No one particular should be on dialysis,” stated Harmody. “It’s hard on individuals and their caregivers and frequently effects in a weak good quality of lifetime for both equally.”
Kidney donation hits property for Harmody
The notion of dwelling kidney donation is private for Harmody, as his father was identified with finish-stage renal failure at age 50. Matt was a sophomore in college or university and needed to be deemed as a kidney donor. His father wasn’t eager on receiving a kidney from a spouse and children member, opting in its place for a cadaver transplant. However, his overall body rejected the kidney, and he died at age 59.
The notion of lacking an chance to assistance an individual caught with Harmody and motivated his decision to come to be an emergency health practitioner. In 2001, Dr. Harmody, his spouse Susan and their young sons Matthew and Andrew moved to the Sandhills for him to perform for Sandhills Emergency Doctors, which provides unexpected emergency treatment at each individual of FirstHealth’s emergency departments.
Considering that Harmody’s start in medication, he explained that not a single working day handed in the emergency department that he did not address at minimum one particular dialysis affected individual heading via an acute or lifestyle-threatening condition.
“The hardships dealing with people whose kidneys have unsuccessful and are now on dialysis are extraordinary,” he mentioned. “No a single should really have to go by that.”
Right after his father’s dying and several years of working towards medication, Harmody imagined of kidney donation. A ton. As an endurance athlete with dozens of operating and biking races below his belt, he realized his system was healthful and he could prosper with just one kidney.
“After several years of asking myself why I must do this, my thoughts advanced into ‘why not do this?’ ” he stated.
He finished a demanding analysis method at the College of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and was approved as a kidney donor in early September 2017. He was mentioned as a non-directed donor, this means his kidney would go to a stranger. A different donation choice is directed donor in which the donor and recipient know every single other. The third possibility is named paired donors in which two donors swap their kidneys with a person they really don’t know to make a compatible match for a person they do know.
A couple of weeks immediately after being listed on the National Kidney Registry (NKR) donor listing, Harmody obtained the get in touch with that NKR identified a match. Physicians executed the four-hour operation on Sept. 27, 2017, and his kidney was flown to a affected individual at Indiana University Healthcare facility.
“My condition is a little bit unique,” Harmody recalled. “For some cause, the receiving patient’s physician did not like the appear of my kidney and despatched it back again.”
With no lack of sufferers on the waiting checklist, UNC immediately discovered a match and transplanted the kidney into a grandmother the up coming working day. To this day, Harmody does not know who she is.
The day just after his surgical procedure, Harmody was up and going for walks in the clinic hallways. He was property the working day after that.
“My surgery was on a Tuesday, and I was back again at FirstHealth for meetings the pursuing Monday,” he mentioned.
He was not allowed to run or journey his bicycle for 8 months and was cautious not to elevate sufferers or bump into many others in the crisis section.
Even so, he still ran in Southern Pines’ Weymouth Woods 100K trail race the following January.
From kidney donation to donation advocacy
Immediately after much more than 20 many years in the crisis section, Harmody a short while ago stepped absent from clinical apply but proceeds to serve as medical director of FirstHealth EMS and president of Sandhills Emergency Doctors.
“This lets me extra time to dedicate to residing kidney donation advocacy,” he mentioned.
Harmody got associated with KDA, an firm that evokes, supports and educates individuals about the expertise of kidney donation via dwelling donor athletes. Via KDA he realized about the A single Kidney Climb at Mount Kilimanjaro. He was hooked.
“Kilimanjaro has constantly been on my bucket list, and my wife is exhausted of me bugging her to go with me,” mentioned Harmody. “When I observed the announcement for A person Kidney Climb, which combines Kilimanjaro with kidney donation advocacy, I realized it was the best match.”
Harmody boards a plane for Moshi, Tanzania, on March 1, arriving the subsequent working day. Following several days to get acclimated to the altitude (Moshi is 4,000 ft earlier mentioned sea amount Pinehurst is 525 ft, for comparison) he and his fellow kidney donor athletes from throughout the United States and Canada will set out.
Five days later on, they hope to achieve the summit at 19,341 feet previously mentioned sea
The ascent to the summit is identical to likely from the equator to Antarctica in one particular journey, as climbers will come across five distinct ecological zones alongside their route. Climate at the get started in tropical Moshi will be warm, but as the climbers attain increased altitudes, the zones get progressively colder till achieving the summit in the arctic zone.
“I’m packing several unique styles of garments,” Harmody claimed.
To monitor the climb with Harmody and his fellow kidney donor athletes, take a look at 1 Kidney Climb web site at kidneydonorathlete.org/one particular-kidney-kili-climb/ or comply with on social media at #KidneyDonorAthletes.
To discover far more about staying a dwelling donor, check out the Nationwide Kidney Registry. Harmody welcomes the opportunity to share his tale and information of residing kidney donation and can be achieved at [email protected]
“When I donated my kidney in 2017, I did not really share with numerous persons what I did because it sounded to me like bragging. Having said that, I began to see the significance of advocating and sharing my tale. If I’m going to create transform, I will have to get out there and distribute the word.”