Kansas kidney donor hoping to inspire others by hiking Mount Kilimanjaro

Stephanie Meyer
Posted at 7:23 AM, Feb 11, 2022

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — A local woman is determined to show people that living a normal life is possible after donating a kidney. In fact, she says organ donors can live incredibly adventurous lives.

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 that said 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," Meyer said. "This felt like a great opportunity to help somebody have a better quality of life.

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 representing the group who will summit Mount Kilimanjaro on World Kidney Day, celebrated this year on March 10.

"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 walking on an incline on her treadmill with a backpack every day.

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

There are currently 100,000 people on the waitlist for an organ, and every 13 minutes in the U.S., 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.

This story was originally published by Emma James on Scripps station KSHB in Kansas City, Missouri.