Lisa Emmott Shares Her Story at the 11th Donate Life Family Fun Run

Our 11th annual Donate Life Family Fun Run was a complete success! For the first time ever, we had as many participants register for the race as there are hopeful recipients waiting for a life-saving donation in Maryland (approximately 3,300 as of Sept. 14, 2019).

We also invited a few participants whose lives have been touched by The LLF and donation/transplantation to step up onto the big stage and share their stories before the race. Lisa Emmott, executive board member and director of media outreach at Donor to Donor, wanted to express her gratitude to the donation process that saved her husband’s life. Read on for her powerful testimony.

“Thank you to The Living Legacy Foundation and to Johns Hopkins Hospital for sponsoring this event. I’m a volunteer at Donor to Donor – a nonprofit where we educate and advocate about living kidney donation.

To transplant professionals, look around and soak in the vibrancy of the smiles and determination on the faces here to see that your job is not merely a job. You are on an invaluable assembly line – manufacturing stories of inspiration, delivering hope, and giving LIFE.

To everyone looking for a living kidney donor for yourself or a family member, I have literally walked in your shoes … though at times, I crawled.

Devastated at being denied to donate a kidney due to my renal anatomy, I campaigned on social media to save my husband’s life. Thanks to selfless donors, my husband received a kidney from a stranger in an eight-way paired exchange facilitated by the National Kidney Registry and Johns Hopkins Hospital.

I used to say “kidney disease picked the wrong wife,” meaning I will fight relentlessly to raise awareness about living kidney donation. But, I have changed my tune to “the right wife was denied to donate.” I will never be able to donate my kidney, but I have vowed to donate my voice to this cause. Our story of survival could be another family’s beacon of light, and THAT is why I share.

I was never a runner before my husband’s transplant, and my inspiration was born from the “stranger” who gave her kidney to my husband. Once I learned that she is an accomplished marathoner, I took a huge leap of faith and nervously agreed to run the Golden Gate Half Marathon with her in San Francisco. After months of grueling training, I met her for the first time just hours before we crossed the finish line together. I like to say, “my husband getting a kidney? That’s science. His wife running a half marathon? THAT is a miracle.” As for the donor’s running performance, she has outperformed her own race times citing, “donate a kidney, and set a new personal record. That bugger was holding me back.”

The Golden Gate Bridge served as the perfect setting for our race because that monstrous structure is usually shrouded in fog, and our transplant journey often rendered us navigating in the dark without a flashlight in reach. I am here today to assure you that just because you can’t see the finish line doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Keep putting one foot in front of the other and focus on the powerful tenacity of the human spirit. Rise with resilient fury to whatever challenge is before you, even if the density of the air itself is so gray and oppressive you can’t see the back of your hand. Take the first step. The fog only dissipates if you allow the spark of your soul to gleam through the unknown. Light your torch and blaze your trail. Let’s take strides together toward a finish line of wait list zero.”

Lisa Emmott and her daughters with Charlie Alexander, President and CEO of The LLF.

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