Monday, December 15, 2003


Kathy Hashimoto, who has end-stage renal failure, hugged her children yesterday after running the Honolulu Marathon.

Runner ignores
failing kidneys
to finish race

The Kailua housewife has
a tougher race to find
a new kidney

Living with end-stage renal failure, Kathy Hashimoto hadn't planned on running yesterday's Honolulu Marathon, but changed her mind.

Despite her diseased kidneys functioning at 13 percent of normal, the 37-year-old marathoner made it across the finish line, with tears in her eyes.

"I'm amazed I finished," she said after completing her 38th marathon in 4 hours, 37 minutes, well below her three-hour average. "I feel OK."

Born with polycystic kidney disease, a life-threatening affliction in which multiple cysts have grown inside both her kidneys, Hashimoto faces a lifetime of dialysis, and premature death, unless she receives a kidney transplant.

Hashimoto told herself that when her kidneys deteriorated to less than 15 percent of normal function, she'd quit running marathons. But that's tough for Hashimoto, who says running is a gift she's blessed with and has been doing with her family since the '80s.

The Kailua housewife hadn't properly trained for yesterday's 26-miler, running a mere five miles three times a week, but her doctor gave the OK Thursday.

Hashimoto knew running wouldn't hurt her but dehydration would, so she wore a hydration pack partway, then relied on water from aid stations. She felt light-headed at 20 miles and walked some.

Four friends, including her sister, ran segments of the course to lend moral support and ensure her well-being. They called her husband, Mark, with updates.

He and daughters Elizabeth, 4, and Marie, 2, stood at Kapiolani Park near the finish and waved as she ran by.

"It's something that she feels compelled to do," said Mark, a Marine reservist who recently returned from Iraq. "She supported me going to Iraq. How can I not support her in this endeavor she feels strongly about?"

Seven of her siblings have the kidney disease, too. Her 64-year-old father, who also ran in yesterday's marathon, and two brothers have had transplants. One brother received a kidney from their mother.

Hashimoto, a former schoolteacher, has been waiting more than two years for a kidney, but she developed certain antibodies while pregnant that lessen the chance of finding a perfect donor match.

"It knocked out an entire group she can't receive from," said Catherine Bailey, transplant coordinator at St. Francis Medical Center's Transplant Institute. Although Hashimoto's healthy brother Tony, 26, offered his kidney, her body would reject it. To accept it would require undergoing a difficult three-month procedure to cleanse her blood of antibodies.

But Hashimoto remains positive in the race for life, drawing strength from her faith.

"I really believe that God is going to take care of finding a kidney for me," she said.


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