Stories of Hope: Randy Fleet

Carlsbad Half MarathonIn March 2009 at the age of 37, Randy Fleet thought he had the flu. He felt progressively worse until difficulty breathing, vomiting and coughing sent him to the doctor, who initially sent him home. However, later that night, his doctor called and directed him to go straight to the emergency room. The next morning, Randy was diagnosed with glomerulonephritis, a type of kidney disease that often leads to kidney failure, and immediately put on dialysis, a treatment that performs some of the functions of the kidneys when they no longer function.

While on dialysis, ten different friends and family members came forward to be tested as a living kidney donor for Randy, including his younger brother, Dustin, who proved to be a perfect match. After a very thorough testing regime to ensure he was a healthy and suitable donor, Dustin donated his kidney to Randy on November 25, 2009, the day before Thanksgiving.

Within hours after his surgery, Dustin was up and walking down the hall to visit Randy. Three days after surgery, Randy had normal kidney function.

“Since my transplant, I have a whole new outlook on life. I have a second chance at life and I intend to make the most of it. Every day, there is something that makes me stop and reflect on my life. Sometimes it’s just clouds in the sky, sometimes it’s a breeze, and sometimes it’s during a run. Those moments often overwhelm me with gratitude and appreciation. I am so grateful for my brother, my friends and family. They are the reason why I am here, alive, and healthier than I’ve ever been.”

Since receiving his life-saving kidney transplant in 2009, Randy has made a bucket list. The first thing on his list was to hike to the top of Mount Whitney, which he did eight months after transplant – 22 miles round trip, with over a 6,000 foot elevation gain to make it to the top. “When I made it to the peak, I broke down. Everything that I dealt with over the last year and a half came flashing before my eyes. I just realized the huge victory of making it to the peak. This was more than a victory of making it to the peak, but it was also a victory to my good health.”

Next up on his bucket list was to run a half marathon, and he did just that in January 2011 – and didn’t stop there. Falling in love with running, Randy ran two more half marathons in 2011, and in 2012 he ran his first full marathon. “I wanted it to be on a special date. I chose November 25, so I could celebrate my three year anniversary by running my first full marathon. The only place in the USA with a run on that day was Seattle, so I registered for that race.” By the end of 2015, Randy will have completed 20 full marathons and 40 half marathons in 11 states since his transplant.

“I am alive and will never take that for granted. I am here to live my life to the fullest and inspire others to do the same. I will make the best of every moment.”

“It’s funny, but 2009 was the worst and best year of my life. I was shocked with the worst news of my life, but it has also brought an outlook that I would have never had, unless I went through kidney failure and dialysis. It was a tough nine months, but it has given me such a positive outlook on my life. Nothing stresses me out any more. Nothing fires me up. When I deal with stressful situations, I just remind myself that I’m alive. It’s really that simple. As long as I am alive and healthy, nothing will get on my nerves, and nothing will stress me out. Life is good!”

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