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The Kidney Kare 5K Run/Walk took place on March 15, 2014. The UNC Kidney Center recently highlighed the stories of four participants who participated in the event.

Almost ten years ago, Lauren Figge moved in with her mother to help care for her and to drive her to dialysis three days a week.

Lauren’s mother, Phyllis Tuttle, had just reached end-stage kidney disease at the age of 63, after having suffered from chronic kidney disease for more than 25 years.

Lauren said that seeing her mother go through dialysis was “heartbreaking.”
She was tested to see if she could be a potential kidney donor for her mother.

“I was lucky enough to be a perfect match,” she said.

After one year of dialysis, Phyllis Tuttle received her daughter’s transplanted kidney.

While the process was not easy, Lauren said “it was such a gift to see her 24 hours post-surgery looking healthier and happier than she had in years.”

Lauren recalls that the transplant team, which included UNC Kidney Center’s Dr. Randy Detwiler, was supportive and made Lauren and her family feel important.

“Every step of the way we felt like we were the only ones that mattered to the health care team,” she said.

Lauren’s donated kidney functioned well until February of 2010, when Phyllis passed away from a heart condition.

“My kidney/our kidney was the healthiest thing in her body and continued to serve her well until the very end!” remarked Lauren.

Currently, Lauren is a nursing student at UNC, and has been a big supporter of the UNC Kidney Center’s annual Kidney Kare Run/Walk since 2008. She said she enjoys the event for the pleasant course and great prizes. It gives her a way to support and honor her mother’s life, and her children enjoy getting to do the same with the Kids Kare run.

Lauren advocates for kidney transplant issues and has several important items to share about her transplant experience.

First, that the surgery for the transplant recipient is fairly simple and recovery seems to happen quickly. “It’s an amazing change to watch their health return,” said Lauren.

Second, that the transplant surgery for the donor is less complicated than it used to be in years past. Lauren says it’s very doable for a healthy person to make a significant impact on a person’s life.

Third, Lauren enjoys the fact that if something happens to the health of her remaining kidney, that since she is a donor, her name will be moved to the top of the recipient list for kidney donations.

“A definite incentive!” she said.

This year’s Kidney Kare Run/Walk, which will take place on March 15, is Lauren’s 40th birthday.

“I’m most looking forward to feeling close to my mother that day as I miss her dearly every day and the race is usually one day where I feel her presence strongly. I am rallying as many runners in my social, school and family circles as I can and hope to celebrate my birthday and my mother’s life in as big a way as possible. I want to make her proud by raising awareness! ”