Natalie's Everyday Heroes: Hometown kidney donor summits Mt. Kilimanjaro

NOW: Natalie’s Everyday Heroes: Hometown kidney donor summits Mt. Kilimanjaro

WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- April is Donate Life Month. So, this is the perfect time to bring you an update on an everyday hero we met in February who is an organ donor.

Natasha Irish was getting ready to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to raise awareness for kidney donation. The last time we saw Irish, she was climbing stairs at Form and Fitness, her gym in Grafton. It was all in preparation for an important trip.

"It was probably also one of the hardest things I've ever done," Irish said.

She set out to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. Starting the day in song, with guides in Tanzania, and climbing step by step.

Over the course of a week last month, Irish made it to the top of the highest peak in Africa.

"I would say donating a kidney is probably easier than climbing Kilimanjaro," she said with a smile.

She went as one of 14 climbers with Kidney Donor Athletes.

"I think the biggest challenge was that final push to the summit. It takes seven hours to go three miles in the dark," she said.

The group made it to Uhuru Peak for World Kidney Day on March 14.

"I mean, I was overcome with emotion. It was tears. It was this flood of relief for making it. It was joy," Irish said of the experience.

Irish committed to the trip to raise awareness for living kidney donation.

She donated one of her own kidneys last year to a stranger.

"I was getting to the point that my kidney function was failing," said her friend, Kelly Welsh.

Irish's donation helped Welsh get her perfect match.

Climbing Kilimanjaro as part of the One Kidney Climb is to raise awareness, in hopes others will consider donating, too.

"People received it well," Irish said. 

The response made her feel like she achieved her goal.

"So, since I've come back, I've had at least three people reach out and say, I'm starting the testing process. People I didn't even know," she said with pride.

While she was traveling, she found out she's been accepted into the Doctor of Public Health program at Johns Hopkins University. And she's flying back to Africa this weekend to continue her work in global public health -- she's committed to making the world a better place.

If you'd like to nominate an everyday hero, send Natalie a message at [email protected].

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