Our Nurse of the Week is Calvin Kennedy, a Nurse Team Leader in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s (UAB) Post-Anesthesia Care Unit. As a two-time kidney transplant recipient, Kennedy joined Team Mountain in climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to showcase the power of organ donation.

Kennedy joined Team Mountain to help raise awareness for kidney disease and the power of living, proving that deceased-donation gives recipients a second chance at life. He made the trip to Tanzania, Africa over the summer with 11 other members of Team Mountain who were motivated to bring awareness to organ donation.

Unfortunately, Kennedy was an hour and a half into the last climb when his body wouldn’t let him climb any further. Suffering from torn ligaments in one of his knees and intestinal parasites he acquired while climbing, Kennedy was exhausted and in excruciating pain at 17,000 feet above sea level with only three miles left to go. Disappointed but aware that he would be endangering his teammates by continuing, Kennedy knew it was time to turn around, and that reaching the summit was not the ultimate message he was trying to send. He tells UAB.edu:

“I wanted to show people that, when you do get a transplant, you can live and live well and do things – do great things. And if you donate an organ as a living donor or a deceased donor, you can help someone live a productive and exciting life. I think this accomplished that. I hope I did.”

Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. 35,000 tourists attempt the climb every year, but only about half of them make it to the peak. Kennedy is proud of his teammates who did make it to the summit and the entire team’s efforts to prove the power of organ donation.

To learn more about Kennedy’s experience climbing Mount Kilimanjaro alongside Team Mountain, visit here.

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