By Ashley Kincaid
In March of 2002, my world as I knew it was rocked. After coming down with a cold during the winter of 2002, no one thought it was a big deal, until I got really sick and had to be hospitalized. My life-long pediatrician broke the news to us that I was experiencing irreversible kidney failure due to lupus. We adjusted our lives, and I went off to Cornell University to begin my schooling. I had a great freshman year, and then over the summer, I became really sick and my kidneys began to fail. I saw my doctor at home, and tried to go back to Cornell in the fall, but I had to immediately return home and begin dialysis to prepare for a kidney transplant. Fortunately, my mother was a match and we were transplanted on April 9th, 2004. Fast forward 8 great years and for no definable reason, “Kinney the Kidney” began to fail and I had to search for a replacement.
After mentioning it to friends and family, my cousin Maquia Kincaid and a few others did one of the most selfless things I can think of and offered to get tested to donate. Maquia was a match! We scheduled the surgery, did all of our workups and on March 27th, 2013, she became my favorite cousin by donating a kidney to me! My cousin is a runner, and I do some running in my free time. After the transplant, she told me that once we recovered, we were going to have to run a race together. I agreed and I knew the perfect race: the UAE Healthy Kidney 10k! So on Saturday May 10, 2014, after both having successful one year checkup appointments, we ran together through Central Park! She has completed 2 full marathons, over 10 half-marathons, and countless 5ks in her racing career, and I have not. I knew that I was going to be slower than she would be, but she agreed to run at my pace so we could experience it together! It was hard for her, but she did it and helped keep me on pace to set a personal best at the 10k distance. The weather was cloudy and cool until the sun came out during the last mile, and the hills were much hillier than I’d planned, but my cousin helped me push through when I tried to stop and walk! We finished the race together and I could not have been happier. She heroically gave me a second chance at life, and she has completed a full marathon and 7 half marathons in the year since donating. I am better than ever and just competed in my first triathlon! We have decided that we are going to make it a tradition to do at least one race a year together, and as much fun as we had at the UAE Healthy Kidney 10k, this just might be the race!
Note: African Americans are three times as likely to experience kidney failure. Taking steps to live a healthy lifestyle can go a long way towards reducing risk. For more information on African Americans and kidney disease, please visit the National Kidney Foundation’s new online health center.