On May 16th, 2012, Radley West, owner of the Anytime Fitness Club in Irmo, South Carolina did a remarkable thing. She donated a kidney to Ryan Brooke, one of her club members whose life was threatened by imminent kidney failure. Read their remarkable story and how life has changed for both, one-year after the transplant surgery.
10% kidney function
Ryan Brooke’s life was hanging in the balance. Ryan’s kidneys were failing and for two years, he had been kept alive by regular dialysis. Fifteen family members and friends were deemed unsuitable donors, through ill-health or lifestyle reasons such as a history of smoking. There are more than 90,000 Americans waiting for a kidney transplant and around 7% will die ‘waiting’ each year (source: American transplant Foundation)
I was always going to donate
When Radley discovered that Ryan’s ill-health was due to kidney failure, she immediately came forward as a potential donor. As Radley said at the time:
‘There really was not any decision for me. It was something where I started the process to be a potential match and each time I passed (a test) I took the next step. When I passed all of the tests it just kind of happened. There was no decision if I was going do it; I always was, as long as I was compatible.’
The kidney donation process
Most of us are born with two kidneys and a full and healthy life can be lived with one kidney. Following a series of tests for suitability, the kidney is carefully removed and transplanted into the recipient. Immediately, the donor’s single kidney takes over the work previously done by the recipient’s two kidneys. Surgery takes just a few hours.
The amazing thing is that the single kidney grows larger and takes over the work previously undertaken by two kidneys.
I don’t need that extra kidney
Radley was able to reach her decision by carefully researching the facts of kidney donation and rejecting myths and mis-understandings. As a fit and healthy individual, Radley knew that her life would be exactly the same, following just a few weeks of recuperation.
‘I guess my thought process was, if I have to go through a little discomfort in the procedure and recovery in order to improve Ryan’s quality of life in the long term, that is what’s important. I don’t need that extra kidney.’ Radley West
One year on
One year on and life seems to have positively changed for both of them. Ryan was recently married and has been promoted to Manager at a local Wal-Mart store. Radley has completed two half-marathons and is training for a full marathon. Her life seems to have permanently changed:
‘Everyone tells me that I saved Ryan’s life, but in reality he saved mine by giving me the opportunity to truly value my gifts and talents and decide to fully put them to use. During my six weeks of recovery I had a lot of time to reflect on my life and how I was living. Since returning to work, I have fully poured myself into my business, my family and my workouts. It has had such a dramatic effect on my life and one that I could not have imagined a year ago. I wish there were more people willing to go out on a limb for their neighbours, friends and family.’
We think this must be one of most remarkable acts of generosity and kindness ever made by a health club owner to a member. Irmo is a small town of just 11,100 people according to the last census. How proud this small town must be Radley West decided to open an Anytime Fitness club in their community.