In June 2019, Steve Wilson went on a bike ride. As many of us often do, he checked his phone beforehand and saw a touching message about his friend’s daughter. “She was a junior in high school at the time, she just got a life-saving kidney from a woman in town,” Wilson told CBS News. “And they didn’t even know this woman until they pleaded for their daughter.”
“So I got emotional. I just thought that was the coolest thing,” said Wilson, who lives in Westchester, NY. “I went on a long bike ride thinking that feeling would go away. , and I kept thinking, ‘I’d love to do something like this one day.'”
After seeing the post, Wilson selflessly decided to become a living donor himself, donating a kidney, while alive, to someone he didn’t know.
“I knew it would go to someone. It eventually went to someone across the country,” Wilson said. “They took my kidney to New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell and they took it to the airport and airlifted it to the West Coast.”
He said he still doesn’t know the person who received his kidney and probably never will, which is fine with him. He just wanted it to change someone’s life, he said.
Going through elective surgery can seem daunting, but Wilson says it only takes two weeks of your life for the operation and recovery. And to prove that it’s not a burden, Wilson and other living donors have embarked on an even more difficult mission: the ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro.
“I think having that goal made it a bit easier. But there were people – and I was one of them – who really worked hard to get through. And the goal behind that was why you kept going,” Wilson said.
The team reached the peak on March 10 — symbolically, World Kidney Day. On whether the climb to encourage living donations was worth it, Wilson said he inspired at least one friend to consider becoming a living donor, but he thinks summiting Kilimanjaro could have inspired others. countless others.
“I think a lot more than one person will consider donating a kidney,” he said. “Because so many people don’t know that you can donate a kidney, that you only need one to live. A lot of people are born with one kidney, and most people probably don’t even know that. not.”
Not only did the headline-grabbing Kilimanjaro summit raise awareness among living donors, but Wilson’s donation turned into a chain reaction of donations.
“My kidney went to someone. And then that someone had a willing donor who was not a match, but that person donated to someone else, and it started a chain, where three people received kidneys,” he said. “All for, again, a two week inconvenience for me.”