by: Chelsey Larson
April, 2013: I’ll set the scene. I’m a junior at the University of Minnesota. Living in a house with 6 of my best friends. Sleeping in for my early 11:15am Business of Sport class. Eating Panda Express for lunch, maybe Taco Bell but probably Wendy’s for dinner. Thursday? Definitely going to Blarney’s for $3 Long Islands and I’ll spend all my money tipping the karaoke guy to move up in line. Then we’ll probably get Mac N Cheese pizza or McDonald’s on the way home. Not a damn care in the world.
May, 2013: My life will be altered forever. One of my roommates had studied abroad for the semester, and some random girl from Craigslist moved in. Ellen stayed to herself most of the time and try as I might, I couldn’t get more than small talk out of her. Until one day, one of my roommates read Ellen’s Facebook post about how at 21 years young, her kidney transplant had failed and she was on dialysis. A college student, just like me, with a completely different life. Every other night, for 4 hours at a time, she was hooked up to a machine that was keeping her alive. Forget about the time commitment and the plans she couldn’t ever make, dialysis is a very draining experience and no way to live at all – it is simply a way to avoid dying.
The moment my roommate read Ellen’s Facebook post, my heart seemed to explode inside my chest and I knew in that very moment I would be a match and I would give her my kidney. I knew this because exactly 2 years prior, my aunt gave her kidney to a stranger from her church without hesitation. Long story short, 2 years later on May 29, 2015, I gave Ellen my kidney without hesitation.
In order to donate a kidney, you have to go through some pretty thorough tests to see if you are physically healthy enough to donate. I really don’t know how I was. I absolutely hated anything that involved cardio (why I play golf) and by a miracle, I completely changed my diet within weeks of my meeting with a nutritionist at the transplant center. I was at my heaviest and decided I had had enough. I did a 24-day challenge (which basically means you eat healthy for 24 days) and day 24 just so happened to be that meeting with a nutritionist to see if I had a healthy enough diet to donate. Since then, I’ve dropped 30 pounds (plus or minus a few because I’ve since discovered that caramel m&ms exist) and the life change was just beginning.
When my cousin, Hali, became a coach at Alchemy I thought to myself, “Oh that’s nice, but you’ll never see me at your work.” I told her many times I would try my first week, knowing full well IF I ever went to Alchemy for the first time, it would be my last. Now I am an avid 7am A10er and barely miss a day. My first day I could barely get the 15-pound torpedo off the rack, let alone do something with it. I couldn’t do a pull up with less than 5 bands (if they weren’t slipping off my foot and snapping up my crotch & yes that happened) & now I’m a badass and only need 1 band! In the words of Juicy J, bands a make her dance.
I truly believe God put me on this earth so I could help Ellen, and hopefully many others. It is my life’s purpose to show others that you don’t have to be extraordinary to do this. And that applies to both donating a kidney and being an Alchemy member. I am a completely normal woman in her 20s. I am not special, courageous, or brave. God put this on my heart and I listened. And I am 100% healthier after donating.