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Shawnee kidney donor to hike Mount Kilimanjaro to raise awareness

Stephanie Meyer
Posted at 4:30 PM, Feb 10, 2022

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — A Shawnee woman is determined to show people you can still live a normal life after donating a kidney. In fact, you can live an incredibly adventurous life.

Stephanie Meyer will be hiking up Mount Kilimanjaro in a few weeks with a group of other living kidney donors.

In 2018, Meyer saw a social media post from an old high school friend saying her husband needed a kidney transplant.

Meyer said she felt called to step up.

"I am really driven a lot by public service and community service and giving back to my community, this felt like a great opportunity to help somebody have a better quality of life," Meyer said.

Meyer learned she was a match with Wichita, Kansas, resident Dan Harmon.

"She definitely has restored my faith in humanity for sure," Harmon said.

Harmon suffered from polycystic kidney disease, which causes clusters of cysts to develop in the kidneys.

It's a slow-progressing disease, which meant he didn't require a new kidney right away. However, he's amazed at how quickly he got one.

"It was impressive, because she was the first one that went all the way through the process and was a match," Harmon said. "Just knowing that she was willing to do that selflessly was amazing."

It's now Meyer's mission to show people they can step up and change someone's life too.

Meyer is part of a nonprofit organization called Kidney Donor Athletes. She was selected to be one of 22 kidney donors who will represent the group with a summit of Mount Kilimanjaro on World Kidney Day (March 10, 2022).

"We really want to let people know not only can you have just a normal quality of life after that, you can really take on all kinds of incredible things with one kidney and be just fine," Meyer said.

Meyer is the only participant from the Midwest but has met up with the others in the group in Colorado to do practice hikes. She spends time every day walking on an incline on her treadmill with a backpack.

The trip will take six days to get to the summit and two to make it back down.

There are currently 100,000 people on the waitlist for an organ currently, and every 13 minutes in the United States someone dies waiting for a kidney.

The decision to become a living donor can mean changing someone's life for the better, like Harmon.

"I think you'll see that you are helping someone greatly without really affecting one's own life," Harmon said.