Hannah: I ran a marathon personal best AFTER donating my kidney to a stranger

30-year-old Hannah donated a kidney to a stranger when she was 27.

I had a slightly unusual reason for donating. When I was just one years old I got E-Coli, Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome (HUS) and had acute kidney failure. At the time I was lucky enough for my treatment to be part of a study at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, and I made a really good recovery.

hannah in front of Brighton marathon sign

I wasn’t aware of the seriousness of HUS until I was older. After reading up on these illnesses, I felt I wanted to pass the good luck forward. I enquired about kidney donation, knowing I may not be eligible due to my medical history. However, the Churchill Hospital in Oxford allowed me to go through testing, and it transpired that my kidneys were very healthy.

I donated my kidney to a stranger – I was told my recipient was an 11-year-old girl – and it is the best thing I have ever done.

My initial recovery was a bumpy ride, but once I was on the up I bounced back. I returned to physical activity cautiously and slowly. Before donating my kidney, I had run four marathons; I wanted to show that donors can do everything afterwards that they could before, so I entered my 5th!

I joined Chiltern Harriers AC and trained for the Brighton Marathon, which I ran on Sunday 11 April 2022. I completed it in 4 hours and 45mins, which beats my pre-donation personal best! It was a tough 26.2 mile course but a great opportunity to wear a Give A Kidney vest and raise awareness of living kidney donation. The vest caught quite a bit of attention from spectators!

I would say to anyone considering living kidney donation, to research and ask lots of questions so that they can go ahead confidently. I see potential donors asking questions about quality of life and how living with one kidney will affect returning to activities – which is an understandable concern. However, as long as you recover well, there is nothing to stop you being as fit and strong as before.

I plan on continuing long-distance running and pushing myself. If anything, donation has made me prioritise a healthy lifestyle more to look after my remaining kidney. Living kidney donation is an opportunity to change someone’s life and give the gift of health, which it is a privilege to be able to do.