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My Kidney Donation Story: Victoria Threadgould

Victoria Threadgould

In February 2022, I donated my left kidney to a stranger through the NKR at the Dell Seton Medical Center in Austin, Texas. After listening to a podcast about organ shortage, life on dialysis, and kidney paired donation, I started looking into living donation in 2021. I didn’t know anything about kidney disease or anyone on the transplant waitlist. Educating myself made me aware that you could donate a kidney to someone and live with one kidney yourself.

I am quite fit and healthy and lucky to not have a history of any medical illnesses. I work in nonprofit healthcare and see how chronic disease, inequity, and lack of access impact peoples’ lives. I just saw it as: “If my body can survive with one kidney, then I can help someone in need.” So, I went on the NKR website and registered my interest to become a living donor.

The Dell Seton Abdominal Transplant Center opened in November 2021. I called them directly because I work for the same nonprofit hospital system. They found me in the NKR system and were able to take me on as a patient. I had my evaluation in December 2021, and I was approved just before the holidays. Because I didn’t have a recipient in mind, I utilized NKR’s Family Voucher Program, which allowed me to list up to five family members should they ever need a kidney transplant in the future.

Educating myself made me aware that you could donate a kidney to someone and live with one kidney yourself.

Victoria Threadgould

All I knew about my recipient was that she was female, of a similar age, and living in New York. I had surgery in the morning and my kidney went on a plane and got transplanted later that day. My recipient’s mum also donated on the same day—she donated on behalf of her daughter and her kidney went to someone in Baltimore.

At my two-week follow-up appointment, the transplant center gave me a letter from my recipient’s mother. She had written to express her thanks and told me that she had donated and was recovering well. Over the course of the year, I exchanged emails with my recipient and her mum, getting to know one another and sharing our experiences. Last February, my husband and I went to New York to celebrate my 40th birthday. We all met up and had brunch. It was lovely to meet them in person and great to celebrate our one-year kidney anniversary.

After my surgery, I took it easy for a couple of weeks. I then started to do a bit of stationary biking at three to four weeks, followed by walking/jogging to slowly get back into running. At six weeks, I ran a 10K. I had signed up for one eight weeks after my donation because I figured that would be enough time to recover. But it just so happened my friend had an extra race entry, so I decided to go ahead and do it. At that race, they announced that I had just donated my kidney six weeks before. One of the surgeons was running too and heard my name—along with 15,000 other runners!

Last summer, I participated in the NKR  Donor Games 1-Mile Swim. It was a challenge, but I trained weekly and finished in third place. I donated my prize money to the Dell Seton Abdominal Transplant Center through the Ascension Seton Foundation. It was my way of giving back after the excellent care I received. 

Last year I also became a living donor mentor for the National Kidney Donation Organization. When I was exploring my kidney donation, I really valued the opportunity to speak with someone who had previously donated their kidney. It’s been really rewarding to help future living donors. I never expected to be part of a community of living donors. I thought I’d donate and recover, and then get back to running races and living my life.

I really valued the opportunity to speak with someone who had previously donated their kidney.

Victoria Threadgould

The whole journey was an amazing experience. However, there’s no way I would’ve been able to do it all by myself. My husband, Mike, was by my side every step of the way. The support I received from family, friends and work colleagues was invaluable.

About the Author

Victoria Threadgould and her husband, Mike, are originally from England. They spent 10 years in Austin, Texas, before moving to Northern Colorado. Victoria is a Grant Professional and a Certified Fundraising Executive. In her free time, she enjoys teaching Pilates, running, and crocheting. Victoria is a living donor mentor for the National Kidney Donation Organization, and a member of Kidney Donor Athletes and the One Kidney Clubs of Austin and Colorado.