OGDEN -- One year ago neither Mallory nor Andy Wahlstrom was able to run in the 13th annual Dash for Donations 5K run. The brother and sister from Kaysville were healing from the kidney transplant that would restore Andy to the health he enjoys today.
Organ and tissue donors¬ lined up with recipients Saturday morning at Weber State University to listen in the moments before beginning their pre-dawn run, the 14th annual dash to promote organ and tissue donor awareness and support.
"(When) I donated one of my kidneys to my sweet brother Andy," said Mallory, "that was such an amazing experience."
Andy had suffered from kidney problems and regularly underwent dialysis to clean his blood.
Dialysis "is really just a way to keep you alive while waiting for a solution," he said. "Right now that (solution)'s a transplant."
The Dash for Donation was originally hosted by Intermountain Donor Services at Sugarhouse Park in Salt Lake City. The event has grown in size so much a run was scheduled at Weber State to allow more participants from the Top of Utah.
Lisa Largent, of Morgan, created a team to encourage participation from donors' friends and families. She also had a message for recipients.
"As a member of a donor family, don't feel guilt for your gift," Largent said. "Make sure you take care of that heart, that donation. Honor their memory by living life to the fullest."
Lisa's husband, Steve Largent, became a tissue donor seven years ago. His donation impacted the lives of more than 50 recipients of his skin, bone, blood vessels and tendons. On Saturday, 37 of Steve's family members took part in¬ the run.
Also present was Rick Chugg, father of Bambi Thomas, who died¬ while awaiting a heart transplant. Her father set up the Bambi Chugg Thomas Healing Hearts Foundation to assist Intermountain Donor Services in raising organ donation awareness by teaching at the Ogden-Weber Advanced Technology College and supporting events like the Dash.
"Seven years ago today, (Bambi) was at the race at Sugarhouse Park, and said that next year she was going to run the race because she'd have a heart (transplant) by then," Chugg said. Four days later, she died.
"This race is to make sure that that doesn't happen again," he said.
Mallory Wahlstrom took action to make sure it didn't happen to her brother. She is the youngest of seven siblings, and when the time came for Andy to seriously pursue a transplant, she volunteered to be tested.
According to Andy, most doctors consider six matching antigens sufficient for a successful transplant. When Mallory was tested, 12 of her antigens matched, a trait found usually only in identical twins. Andy's new kidney began functioning even before the surgery was finished.
Her donation has¬ restored so much of Andy's¬ quality of life that he finished¬ the run along with his sister with strength to spare.
"(It) really was the greatest thing I've ever done in my life. I'm so passionate about organ donation," said Mallory.