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Thanks to a kidney donation, this Twin Cities couple is running Grandma’s Marathon

<i>WCCO via CNN Newsource</i><br/>When Becky and Scott DeGroot toe the line at Saturday's Grandma's Marathon
WCCO via CNN Newsource
When Becky and Scott DeGroot toe the line at Saturday's Grandma's Marathon

By Adam Duxter

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    BROOKLYN CENTER, Minnesota (WCCO) — When Becky and Scott DeGroot toe the line at Saturday’s Grandma’s Marathon, they fully anticipate the emotions of the last three years to finally hit them.

The husband and wife have every reason to celebrate, even before the race is over. The two have both given, and received, life over the last year.

The course to Saturday started more than a decade ago – ahead of the birth of the couple’s second child. Scott, during a routine physical, learned he had inherited Polycystic Kidney Disease, a condition that could ultimately lead to the need for a transplant.

At the time, he was young and healthy – routinely running in Ragnar events and other long-distance races. While that continued for the years to come, he noticed a change in his body during the pandemic.

“I started noticing, and Becky started noticing, that I wasn’t as energetic,” Scott DeGroot said. “Come the first part of 2022, I get told, no, your kidney function has declined to the point where you need to start looking at transplant centers.”

Doctors told Scott DeGroot that waiting for a kidney from a deceased donor could take years. Becky DeGroot wasn’t fit to be a direct match either, as the two don’t share a blood type.

The couple created a Facebook page and began the search for a living donor. Becky DeGroot also registered to become a living donor, and in 2023, donated a kidney to a stranger. The process could technically help Scott DeGroot’s chances of finding a living donor – but their search quickly ended with the surprise of a lifetime.

“(The doctor said) I’ve got news for you, we have a direct match for you,” Scott DeGroot said. “I’m like, ‘We’ve got a direct match?'”

The match came courtesy of Amy Anderson, Scott and Becky DeGroot’s friend and fellow runner.

“It just amazes me that she was willing to do that,” Scott DeGroot said.

At the time of his nephrectomy, Scott DeGroot’s kidneys weighed eight pounds each – a healthy adult kidney weighs one-half to three-quarters of a pound.

In August 2023, Anderson donated her kidney to Scott DeGroot at M Health Fairview – University of Minnesota Medical Center.

“It was a night and day difference,” Scott DeGroot said.

Saturday’s race is significant to the DeGroots – as they run their first half-marathon together since surgery.

“Having the ability to run a half marathon on Saturday is incredible. I will always be thankful for that. I want to show people you can do that,” Scott DeGroot said.

“The ability to go for a walk together, the ability to go for a run together, it’s just, it gives you different perspective to reign in and live your life,” Becky DeGroot said.

The Degroots credit faith, friends and family for providing the strength to make it through. They’re hopeful their story could inspire others to become living organ donors.

You can find more information on becoming a living donor on the M Health Fairview website.

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