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My Kidney Donation Story: Iris Bartov

Iris Bartov

Please consider being a living organ donor. Last year, as I turned 50, I fulfilled a 20-year dream of donating one of my kidneys to someone through the National Kidney Registry!

Iris at a special event at Dell Seton Medical Center for kidney donors.

I had heard about us needing only one of our two kidneys at a convention 20 years before and always wanted to give this gift of life. In the meantime, I was busy raising my children and it seemed to just be on the back burner.

This past year, all the stars aligned. I saw a post from a friend who had recently donated her kidney to her best friend’s child, another friend inspired me with her paired matching experience, and Dell Seton has just opened the first abdominal transplant center in Austin.

I called the transplant center and started getting screened to see if there was a match out there. Someone who desperately needed a kidney and could avoid the nightmare of dialysis or worse. An exact match was soon found!

Iris at the 2023 Austin Marathon.

I knew that being overweight would exclude me from donation, and worse, put me at risk of needing medical intervention in the long run as opposed to helping others. I carefully and methodically lost a pound a week and resumed exercise, which was always a passion of mine. I was in peak health for my surgery, which took place in February 2022. Now, knowing I have only one kidney, I maintain a healthy way of living. All the physical and mental preparation ensured that I had a great recovery and was back at work within two weeks. 

I did everything the doctor said; I didn’t want to overdo it and slow my recovery. Once I was fully recovered, I started training for my first-ever marathon. I’ve done two so far and I plan to do my third one, the Marine Corps Marathon, in October, representing the NKR.

I want to spend the rest of my life promoting living kidney donation. If anyone is thinking about doing something beautiful and altruistic in this world, they should look into it. There’s no downside to being a donor.

About the Author

Iris Bartov is a program Director at Austin’s JCC, where she works with adults 60+ as well as the Arts.

In addition to choosing to have one kidney, she has three almost grown children and a passion for volunteering and healthy living!

Her goal is to do at least one Ironman before age 99 and spend the next few years encouraging folks to donate.