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HEALTH Daughter slims to save her Dad's life



Published: Sun, March 23, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



A California woman underwent a rigorous weight-loss program to donate a kidney to her father.

By KIM LAMB GREGORY

SCRIPPS HOWARD

Love and sweat have slimmed Cheryl Rosenthal down to the point where she can help save her father's life.

The Ventura, Calif.. woman needed to lose 40 pounds before she could donate a kidney to her father.

Now 37 pounds lighter, Rosenthal has finally gotten her doctor's clearance to go ahead with the transplant to help her father, Les Rosenthal, 65.

An arduous program

For the past six months, Cheryl, 31, has been sticking to a 1,200 calorie-a-day, low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet and showing up faithfully six days a week at a local gym to work with her trainer, Geri Arnais.

Arnais has been coaching Rosenthal through a workout routine that includes 45 minutes of cardiovascular training four days a week and weight training three days a week.

Arnais, who is accustomed to dealing with clients whose motivation to exercise comes from the desire for a smaller dress size or the problem of high cholesterol, was both impressed with and concerned by the pressure Cheryl put on herself. Arnais also realized that Cheryl's reward for weight-loss would be surgery.

"My biggest worry from day one was the stress factor," Arnais said. "She had to lose all of this fat to get herself in shape to go under the knife."

There were times when Cheryl was tempted to skip the workout -- especially considering that she makes a 120-mile round-trip weekday commute to the kindergarten where she teaches. But, she knew her dad's quality of life depended on her dedication.

"My reason for doing it made it easier to get there," Cheryl said.

Transplant necessary

For six months, her father has been undergoing thrice-weekly 3 1/2-hour dialysis sessions. Kidney trouble has plagued him for most of his life.

His kidneys first went into total failure in 1996 as the result of complications from hypertension. In 1997, he received a kidney from a cadaver, which gave him four healthy years.

"Basically, those were the best four years of my life," he said.

When the transplanted kidney failed in August 2002, all three of his adult children had a series of tests to determine if their tissue and blood types matched his.

Only Cheryl proved to be a compatible donor. But, she was carrying too much weight to safely undergo a transplant operation.

Despite Les' discomfort, neither he nor his wife, Roberta, wanted their youngest daughter to feel pressured to donate a kidney.

"I said, 'We won't think any more or less of you if you don't,'" Roberta said.

But Cheryl was determined.

"It's my dad," she said.

When he considers the gift his daughter is working so hard to give him, Les' voice chokes with emotion.

Surgery scheduled for April

Cheryl had become accustomed to frustration -- her weight had reached a plateau several times. But by February she had lost 37 pounds and more than 20 inches.

Her doctor gave her the go-ahead for the transplant, but Cheryl's body suddenly rebelled. She contracted a raging case of bronchitis that kept her from exercising for nearly a month.

"It was like my body just kind of shut down," Cheryl said.

But she recovered, and both she and her dad are feeling much better. It now looks as if the surgery will take place in April. Cheryl, who just resumed her exercise schedule, is more than ready.

"I'm like, let's get it over with," she said.




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