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Jen Schiffer - San Diego, CA



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.


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