In March, a group of 20 kidney donors summited the highest mountain in Africa to celebrate World Kidney Day. This activity demonstrated that living organ donors can accomplish any physical challenge that could be achieved by a person with two kidneys. This month, they continue their advocacy of living donation by Releasing a video of their trip in observance of April as National Donate Life Month.
The climbers are all members of the nonprofit Kidney Donor Athletes (KDA), founded in 2018. “Something important to all of us is to normalize kidney donations,” KDA supporter and climber Patty Graham said. “We’re not heroes. We’re normal people leading normal lives.”
KDA President Bobby McLaughlin explained the multi-dimensional benefits of the trek, that “spending time with fellow kidney donors in Africa, spreading the word of living donation—[it] doesn’t get much better than that, but thanks in part to Embark Exploration Company we’re also making inroads and establishing partnerships with agencies in Tanzania that support kidney donation.”
Currently, there are nearly 100,000 people on the waiting list in the United States in need of a kidney. With an average wait time of three to five years for a transplant, 13 people die every day. Increasing the number of living donations would significantly reduce the number of unnecessary deaths from kidney failure, as kidneys from living donors last, on average, 50% longer than those from deceased donors.
“The media response to the Kilimanjaro climb has been overwhelming, and everyone we’ve talked to wants to see footage of the trip,” explained McLaughlin. “We hope that this attention translates to action in becoming a living donor for some.” Created by Tom Racek of Summit Pointe Productions, the new video of the trek is a precursor to an upcoming documentary to be released in the coming weeks.
About Kidney Donor Athletes
Kidney Donor Athletes is a 501(c)3 nonprofit whose mission is to promote the gift of life through living kidney donation among active individuals and athletes by building a community that inspires, supports, and educates people about the experience of kidney donation.