When Mike Myers ran his first marathon at age 50, he packed light: one kidney light, to be exact.
Myers, operations manager for Jackson Electric Cooperative, got into running when his daughter, Susan, encouraged him to join her in a half-marathon. She then challenged him to go for the full 26.2-mile distance. That was six marathons ago. And Myers completed his first one, in 2003, only seven months after donating a kidney to his sister, Sudi Hamilton.
The story begins in 1993. Hamilton’s kidneys were failing from polycystic kidney disease, and she received a kidney from her mother, Martha Gene Myers, during transplant surgery. Her three brothers tested as qualified donors as well but were a tad bit overzealous in their desire to help. “The doctors actually told us that we weren’t a good match just so that we’d stop arguing about it,” Myers chuckled. “We’re a very close family.”
Fast-forward 10 years: Hamilton again needed transplant surgery. Her sole kidney was failing, and Myers, along with his brothers, underwent another round of donor testing. Hamilton felt guilty about taking a brother’s kidney, but Myers and his wife, Holly, insisted. “I told her what a privilege it was for me, and I would give her my heart if she needed it,” said Myers, who was the closest donor match.
Myers, who lives in Edna, returned to work four days after donating the kidney during minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery, which diminishes patients’ pain and speeds recovery. “It’s a small price to pay for a life,” he said. “If people realized how easy it was to give a kidney, then there would be no waiting list for kidneys.”
Seven years later, Hamilton’s transplanted kidney is healthy.
Fellow Texans may join the deceased donor registry through the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance (TOSA).
To learn more about the TOSA, go to www.txorgansharing.org.
Ashley Clary is field editor for Texas Co-op Power.
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