Training to run a marathon can be grueling, even for someone in their best shape.
It has been even tougher for Shannon Kenny. She donated one of her kidneys to her mother in May at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. She is running in the Chicago Marathon on Sunday.
Kenny, 30, of Lincoln Park, called picking up where she left off — after six weeks of recovery from surgery — “definitely an uphill battle.”
But now that she’s back to running 20-miles or more, “It feels great,” she said.
Kenny’s father had asked all of his five children in December if they would be willing to donate a kidney to their mother; she was suffering from kidney failure.
All of them quickly agreed. In April, Kenny was found to be the first match.
She had decided to do the marathon — her second — back in February. She also ran the Chicago Marathon two years ago.
“Obviously, it’s a big undertaking to go through surgery,” Kenny said. “But when it is a family member in need, especially when it’s your mom, you kinda don’t hesitate to return the favor of someone that gave you life to give them a second chance at life.”
And while she’d asked if the kidney transplant could wait until after her marathon, the hospital told her it couldn’t wait.
So on May 29, she and her mother, Maureen Dwyer Kenny, went in for surgery. There were no complications, and now Maureen, 59, feels “much better than I did before,” she said.
“I’m grateful, because I would have for sure been on dialysis eventually,” the Glenview resident added.
Meanwhile, Shannon Kenny — after initial pain where her kidney used to be, and some lingering fatigue after surgery — waited six weeks to start training again.
That’s how long most people who have had surgery to remove a kidney usually need to get back to their normal routine, said Dr. Sameh A. Fayek, surgical director of Living Donor Kidney Program at Rush University Medical Center.
And, “in general, donation of a kidney by a healthy individual who was thoroughly evaluated by [a] transplant center and deemed a good candidate carries very low long-term risks,” said Fayek, who was not involved in Kenny’s transplant.
Initially, though, training after surgery was “pretty rough,” Kelly said. “The first time I started running again, I could barely even run two miles.”
Despite that, she kept training. She wanted to do a longer run every week, to build up her endurance, but instead could manage it only every two weeks.
Kenny’s goal is to finish the marathon in 4 hours, 15 minutes. But whether or not she does, Kenny said she’s already done something she can be proud of.
“Giving someone else the opportunity to continue the quality of life … there’s no greater or selfless act,” she said. “It’s very fulfilling.”