Would You Give Your CrossFit Coach Your Kidney?
Why can’t I do this,” Codiee Lofquist thought to himself.
A coach who regularly squatted north of 400 pounds struggled to even stand up from the bottom of an air squat.
CrossFit Muskegon members knew something was amiss; they just didn’t know exactly what.
Over the past several years, Codiee’s kidneys had been progressively deteriorating, slowly inching towards complete failure. But Codiee tried hard not to let on that he was struggling.
When he stopped showing up to coach though, everyone realized how sick he really was.
“I’ve known I’ve had kidney problems since 2008 but never let it affect what I could do,” Codiee said. “It caught up with me about a year ago. I had about 13% [kidney] function and had some pretty mentally tough days.”
On a desperate whim to save her son, Codiee’s mother sent an email to everyone she could think of, including all the members of Muskegon CrossFit.
Russell Mock, the owner of Muskegon CrossFit, remembers how hard Codiee tried to conceal his illness.
“He’d be at the gym, coaching, all the while knowing he could no longer do the same movements he was cuing them through,” Russell said. “Once he got home, in private, he couldn’t even open a jar of pickles.”
Codiee suffers from a rare genetic disorder called Uromodulin Kidney Disease, where the kidneys, no longer able to filter out daily waste, begin to progressively shut down. Uromodulin Kidney Disease cost Codiee not only his kidney function but his military career; he was medically retired at age 27 due to the disease.
After the Marines, Codiee moved back to Michigan in 2013, where he discovered Muskegon CrossFit. Putting his two skill sets together, leadership and CrossFit, he quickly became a favorite coach in the gym.
“I immediately felt like I wanted to be a part of the community here.”
In 2017, something started to change. Members started noticing that Codiee was losing weight. His lifts were also getting lighter and lighter. A 400 pound back squat fell to 350, then to 300. His deadlift went from 500 to 400, to 300. Eventually, he stopped lifting altogether and asked other members to demo the movement standards whenever he coached.
Pretty soon he stopped showing up to coach altogether.
By the end of 2017, Codiee was in bad shape. Puffy, swollen, and sick he hated asking for help, so if he couldn’t do something himself, he just wouldn’t do it.
After a year of hang-ups with the VA Hospital, Codiee was officially placed on the transplant list.
Codiee’s mother and sister were devastated to learn they were not matches. On a desperate whim to save her son, Codiee’s mother sent an email to everyone she could think of, including all the members of Muskegon CrossFit, with the number to call if they were interested in being tested as a matching organ donor.
Stephanie and Deron Hunter were lifelong members of Muskegon CrossFit but weren’t super close with Codiee. But when Stephanie saw the email she told her Deron that she wanted to get checked to see if she was a match.
“Me too,” Deron told her.
Then the results came back and not only was Deron a perfect match, so was Stephanie.
“The super-cool part about us both being matched for Codiee is that means I should be a match for Deron, too, and since he’s now down a kidney, I am saving my spare for him now!”
Stephanie and Deron said it just felt right the entire time. “You know, I’m not sure why, but it didn’t feel shocking that we were both matches. I think because we just knew that God was taking care of it all and it just felt like it was ‘the right thing’ from the beginning,” said Stephanie.
But Codiee was shocked when he heard the news. “I was surprised, to say the least. I’ve had numerous people tell me they wanted to get checked as a donor. Deron and his wife Steph were the first to actually go through the process.”
Deron, who is allergic to pain medication and therefore underwent surgery despite knowing his pain would be significant, was nervous that it wouldn’t work.
“They warn that sometimes they get in there, and for one reason or another decide that it’s not going to work. Once I heard it was a success, and started to hear the numbers – the rapid improvement in Codiee’s kidney function, then I felt relieved. I guess I was nervous that we’d go through all this, the tests and trips to Ann Arbor, for nothing.”
“He’d be at the gym, coaching, all the while knowing he could no longer do the same movements he was cuing them through. Once he got home, in private, he couldn’t even open a jar of pickles.”
Michigan University Medical Hospital, where the transplant surgery was performed, placed Deron and Codiee together throughout all the stages of surgery. Deron was brought out of surgery first, where Stephanie tended to him before going to check on Codiee and his family, all of which were still waiting to see if the kidney would take. Finally, the doctor came and relayed the news that the transplant was a success.
“He still hadn’t woken from the anesthesia and was on the ventilator, but the medical staff was all super impressed by the fact that the kidney was already functioning and producing an apparently-impressive amount of urine,” Stephanie said.
“Everything happened so fast. My kidney function increased five times in a matter of days,” Codiee said.
Stephanie and Deron are both doing great. “We’re also super happy that so far Codiee seems to be doing really well, and the kidney is performing well. We’re really excited for all of the positive changes that will be a result of him getting a new kidney, and we’re so thankful to be a part of his story!”
Both men have recovered remarkably well and are excited to return to CrossFit Muskegon. And CrossFit Muskegon is looking forward to it as well. “I’m excited to have him back. I miss my friend; I miss my coach,” Russell said.
Codiee, who just months ago couldn’t open that jar of pickles let alone return to deadlifting in the 500’s, is just relieved to have his life back.
“As of today I’m slowly building, and am working my lifts at 135 pounds. CrossFit has prepared me for this surgery and my recovery has gone smoothly I think because of it. I feel like a new person. I’m excited to start this journey all over again. It’s like I get another chance to fall in love with the sport all over again. I can’t thank Deron enough for this; there are no words that I can say to express my gratitude.”
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