Source: Milford Daily News
Bob Pritchard will be the first to tell you the discomfort he'll experience running the 26.2-mile Boston Marathon today is nothing compared to the pain his sister Regina and thousands more have endured as they wait for an organ transplant.
Bob Pritchard will be competing in his fourth straight Boston Marathon today, his eighth marathon in the past four years.
Diagnosed at a young age with hereditary nephritis, Regina Pritchard knew after a biopsy that she would eventually need a new kidney. That time came in 2003.
"I knew that I would need a kidney," she said. "And everyone in my family was very generous and they came forward and were tested and Bob was my closest match."
Despite the close match, Regina Pritchard experienced a number of complications following the surgery, which resulted in her being hospitalized for more than 6 months. Doctors made the decision to remove the transplanted kidney, and put her on the organ donation waiting list and dialysis.
"It can be upward of five years to be on the waiting list," said Regina Pritchard.
Luckily, she didn't have to wait that long before another donor match came forward, her sister-in-law Anna, Bob Pritchard's wife. The second time around, although they were not perfect matches, both Regina and Anna came out of the surgery with ease and both are still doing well.
"In June 2006, we had another surgery and that one went very smoothly and it has been working ever sense," said Anna Pritchard.
But while Regina Pritchard was having troubles following the first surgery, Bob Pritchard experienced difficulties of his own.
"I was very fatigued and just feeling down after the operation and with everything that was going on with my sister," he said.
So he took to running and exercise to lift his spirits. Eventually he signed up for his first race, the Falmouth Road Race. After that, he figured the next step would be to run a marathon, which he did for the first time in 2006, competing in the Cape Cod Marathon.
His time in that race was good enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon the following year, a chance he knew he couldn't pass up. Four years later, he will be running as a member of the Donate Life team, which helps raise awareness for organ donation, either through living donations or by encouraging people to put "organ donor" on their driver's license.
"It seemed like such a good thing," he said of joining the team. "From my understanding, about half the people on the waiting list die before they get their needed organ and it is such as shame to see that. So to the extent that we can raise awareness of that, that is a great thing."
And Bob Pritchard said making that trek from Holliston to Boston is just a small sacrifice to help all those people waiting and hoping for an organ.
"If you think about people waiting for a transplant, that is a marathon," he said. "I mean, I run for 3 1/2 hours. But people who are waiting for an organ, that could take years and the discomfort is every minute."