SIOUX FALLS, SD -
For many of us, siblings play an important role in our lives. That's why when 29-year-old Kate McKenna needed a kidney transplant, her sister didn't hesitate to donate her kidney.
Getting into shape takes a lot of determination. That's why these two Sioux Falls half-sisters decided to hire a personal trainer together.
"We sweat together, so that brings us closer," Nikki Dirksen said.
"She always makes everything fun. She's so light-hearted and funny," McKenna said.
But their main reason for getting into shape is no laughing matter.
"They said, 'We can't believe you're standing with all your levels. You should be on the ground,'" McKenna said.
McKenna was diagnosed with kidney failure after a routine doctor's checkup almost five years ago.
"It really came out of the blue. I was 24. I hadn't been feeling very well," McKenna said.
At that time, McKenna had just gotten engaged and graduated from Augustana College with the goal of becoming a teacher. Both her career and wedding have been put on hold for almost five years.
"Since this happened, her life has been about the kidney failure. It happened when she was 24. It's time for her to move on and get married and be a normal 29 year old," Dirksen said.
That's why Dirksen decided to donate her kidney to her sister.
"There was never really a, 'Should I?' It was, 'When can I?'" Dirksen said.
Before the planned surgery in March, doctors recommend Dirksen and McKenna be in the best shape possible.
"The fitter and healthier you are, the easier the surgery goes," Dirksen said.
Dirksen says just watching her sister provides motivation for her workout.
"She's up and here and working out. She's going to work and doing things most people wouldn't in this situation. Her perseverance is really what inspires me," Dirksen said.
McKenna says her inspiration is her sister and the possibly life-saving gift.
"There's really no words to say how grateful I am that she would do this for me. It's really going to change my life. I'll be able to do all the things. I'll be able to get married and get a job and live the life I planned before all this happened," McKenna said.
McKenna's trainer does have to watch McKenna more than most clients. Because of her kidney failure, her temperature can't get too high.
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