Running for Organ Donation

Sally Matos started running late in life, participating in her first half marathon in 2010 at the age of 52. She fell in love with the sport and quickly began to build up her base and cross races off her list.

While Sally was being rejuvenated by running, her nephew Jason was slowly declining. Jason had been diagnosed with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) at the age of 14. FSGS causes scarring in the kidneys’ tiny blood vessels that filter waste from the blood. By the time Jason neared his 30th birthday, his kidneys were becoming too scarred to function.

Even though he didn’t want to believe it, as Jason grew more weak and tired, he knew he was close to kidney failure. In 2012, Jason’s kidneys failed. He was placed on dialysis for four hours a day, three days a week.

Sally, seeing her nephew struggle with kidney failure and dialysis, decided to get tested to be a donor. Thanks to all the running, she sailed through the physical exam and was found to be a match for Jason. In July 2012, Sally and Jason had their transplant operation.

Sally describes the donation process as an adventure that was sometimes a little intimidating. But the realization that she was saving someone’s life filled her with joy.

Jason is now making great use of Sally’s kidney, pursuing a Master of Social Work degree. And Sally didn’t wait long to get back on her feet. She ran and walked the Bronx 10-mile race just a few months after the surgery. Since then, she has participated in several races and completed three marathons! On May 30th, Sally will participate in the UAE Healthy Kidney 10K in New York’s Central Park to promote awareness of kidney disease and organ donation.

“I think everyone that is in good health should sign up as an organ donor and consider living donation,” Sally says. “Organ donation is a wonderful thing, and we’re living proof of that.”

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