By Greg Smith, kidney recipient

TreeRandi and I were sixteen and in high school when we started dating. Our relationship was brand new when I received unexpected news – I was diagnosed with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). My kidneys weren’t working correctly and my doctor told me I would need a kidney transplant in the future.  After talking to my parents about this diagnosis, I met with Randi to tell her the news. Without hesitation she said, “Don’t worry, I’ll give you one of mine!”

Several years later, we were married and began our lives together. I found the best way to combat my kidney disease was through being physically active – I raced bicycles and competed in triathlons to stay in top physical condition. Through the years as my kidney function depleted, I kept moving and thankfully never needed dialysis.

OSUAs our lives together grew, Randi was tested to be my living donor. When it was found she was a match, we were elated!  After moving several times, and being listed at several transplant centers, we made a home in Columbus and I was listed at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. A date for the transplant was set – December 21, 2012.

The days leading up to the transplant were nerve-wracking however, I remained very active. In fact, just four days before transplant, I rode my bike for 80-miles!

When the day of the transplant finally came, I remember being very worried about Randi. I didn’t want anything bad to happen to her as a result of the surgery.

Green chairRandi went into surgery first and seeing her being wheeled off to the operating room was very difficult, even though we were both confident for a positive outcome. She was the first thing I asked about after coming out of anesthesia. She was doing well and the transplant had gone smoothly on both sides. We were able to go home several days after surgery.

Life post-transplant has been great, with just a few minor bumps along the way. Thanks to the Gift of Life Randi provided me and the excellent care of Dr. Bumgardner and the team of medical professionals at Ohio State, I have enjoyed more than three and a half years of excellent health.

On their four-year transplant anniversary

On their four-year transplant anniversary

The amazing thing about Randi’s donation is that she not only saved my life, but potentially the lives of two complete strangers. Since I had been listed at two other transplant centers before settling in Columbus, I was still on their wait lists. During the time Randi was being worked up at Ohio State, I received two calls for matching kidneys. Since I already had a donor lined up, I was able to pass on those kidneys which most likely went to the next person on the transplant list. Incredible!

When I asked Randi why she offered to donate a kidney to me when she was only 16, she responded that she thought it was the right thing to do. Won’t you consider being a donor? You can register to donate after your death by visiting www.lifelineofohio.org, or if you are interested in becoming a living donor, please visit https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/transplant/living-kidney-donation.