Jen Schiffer - San Diego, CA
I run because it brings me inner peace and helps relieve stress and helps me appreciate my
ability to be physically active and healthy. I began running because unlike my sister, I did
not participate in many sports beyond dance as a child, other than skiing and mountain biking
and activities that we both did with our family on the weekends. I never really felt like an
athlete until I started running. I had no idea back then what running would someday do for me
and how much it would improve my life.
My sister, the overachiever, was born with kidney disease. Since she is 5 years younger than
me, I have always felt like a second mom to her and often worried about her and what would
happen the day she needed a kidney transplant. At the age of 25, it was time. Her kidney
function was at the point where her doctor wanted her go on a transplant list. At this point my
mom thought she might be the perfect donor; however we found out that she wouldn't be the best
option since her kidney was a bit older and since the recovery for her would be more difficult.
I was the perfect donor and without a hesitation, I told my family I was doing it.
My parents were concerned that there would be a chance it would make me incapable of having
children and they were apprehensive about the idea. My sister feared that I might not be able
to run anymore and although she thought I should slow down anyway, she didn't want to take
anything away from me.
By 2004 my running had increased tremendously, I had run six marathons and qualified for
Boston in three of them and had run Boston once. Running helped me make it through the day at
the office by giving me the fresh air and mental release that I craved. All this aside, I knew
that there was no question, I would give up running and give up the ability to have children if
it meant I could save my sister. She was one of the people I thought of during each mile of my
marathons and even on my daily runs and I knew that in my heart I had to do this for her.
On April 19th, 2004, the day of the Boston marathon, I donated my kidney to my
sister. Prior to that day I logged over 200 miles of running without a break to be sure that if
I never ran again, I would feel like I had my fill. I also used running to help me get through
the fear and the anxiety I had over the whole procedure and the possible outcomes. The surgery
did not go 100% smoothly and there was a point where the doctors thought they had lost the
function on my kidney and my sister was in trouble, but in the end everything worked out. We
spent the days after the operation in the hospital racing each other through the halls,
although racing is an extreme exaggeration since I had severed abdominal muscles from my belly
button to my pelvis. She always beat me around the halls and she would get excited knowing she
could move faster than me for once. She even ran seven miles after we had recovered and we said
she got the running kidney.
Eight months later, I ran the Orange Country marathon and had a PR of 3:36:13 and then
months later I ran Rock N Roll with another great time of 3:37. We joked and said that missing
one kidney made me lighter, but really I just had one more reason to run. To date, my sister is
healthier than she has ever been and we both are going to be able to have children someday and
the nephrologist says I will never have to give up running!
My favorite running shoes are Asics Gel Kayano and my must have running apparel consists of
Nike running shorts and a matching sports bra for warm weather and Adidas or Road Runner Sports
tights for cold weather with a dry-wick long sleeved shirt. I also enjoy wearing my 2XU fleece
jacket on really cold days.