Sarah’s Living Donor Kidney Transplant Story: Finding Beauty Beyond Limitations

Sarah Carlozzo

I no longer have a kidney, but now I know what beauty is. I'm a marathon runner, and when I donated my kidney to my nephew, I was afraid I might not be able to run anymore. Running is a way of life for me; I've made the most important decisions while running, like the decision to donate: I was convinced, nothing and no one would stop me. I made the decision with my heart, then with my head. Only after deciding I start researching; I did it more to reassure my relatives, to explain to them that you can live comfortably even with one kidney. I've never had maternal instincts, but when my brother's child was born, I felt tremendous affection for him. Until he was nine years old, I lived with him every day because we lived in the same building.

On December 18, 2019, we had the transplant: he was nineteen, I was forty-six. Only a curtain separated us, and upon waking up from anesthesia, I heard his voice asking for me; I was his first thought. My nephew doesn't express affection in words, but his gestures are worth much more. "United forever," my brother wrote on a photo of us.

Rebirth Through Resilience

At the beginning, it was tough, not so much physically as mentally. After the donation, I was afraid that as an athlete, I would have limitations. Now I know that limitations are only mental; if you can overcome them, you can discover even better aspects than before. So, I chose to make a pact with my health. I gave myself a year to understand how my body reacted. And for a year, I walked. Every day, I tried to push myself a little further, tried to shorten the time it took to traverse the stretch of road by the sea near my house. I went out early in the morning, before going to work, listened to music, and walked. Then something happened within me; I turned off the music, started listening to my body, and after listening, I understood it. I no longer have a kidney, but now I notice all the beauty that belongs to me and surrounds me.

When I run in the morning, I smell the sea, the scent of the just-begun day, the saltiness that reaches my skin; I look at my running steps, their sound on the ground, and then on the horizon, the Aeolian Islands with all their beauty. They had always been there, yet I didn't see them. Everything now is part of a single beauty, even my slow steps transforming day by day into running steps. When I realized my body was responding well, it was a rebirth: it's one thing to hear it from doctors, another to truly feel it.

In 2022, I participated in my first race; it was the beginning of a new life. In 2023, I was awarded a prize by the Italian Athletics Federation for standing out in determination and tenacity. In the end, I became aware of having something less in my body but much more in my spirit.

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