Looking back at my diagnosis of Stage 3 kidney disease about eight or ten years ago, I become disappointed that the disease was downplayed in a way that I now feel was shortsighted.
I wish a medical professional would have hit me over the head with a hammer to convey the significance of chronic kidney disease and eventual renal failure. Unfortunately, I made the all too common mistake of leading an unhealthy life as an adult. Along with morbid obesity came high blood pressure and uncontrolled diabetes.
About four years ago, a conversation with the vascular surgeon who developed my fistula finally scared me enough to do something about my obesity with bariatric surgery. I dialyzed for 10 months at 125 pounds overweight and was probably close to death, but with the help of the surgery, I was able to lose the weight keep it off and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Other than the kidney failure, I am in the best shape in 30 years. Kidney failure is devastating, but in a way, without it, I may be dead. I continue to do in-center hemodialysis, exercise, help take care of my sister, try to get the word out about Chronic Kidney Disease, market myself for an altruistic donation, continue the close relationships with all of my doctors and attempt to not let the disease get the better of me mentally.
Although there are more transplants now than in years past, transplants alone, both living and cadaver, will not even come close to resolving the organ shortage.
There are more than half a million people in the U.S. who need kidneys. Worldwide that figure is in the millions. We must embrace technology in order to help the most amount of people possible. Baffled as to how dialysis has been implemented for over 60 years with little innovation, I am excited to finally see bio engineering, 3D printing, regeneration techniques and hardware devices come to light. We cannot get these tools to the market fast enough. Within 20 years, I would love to be a part of a world where no one has to die an early death primarily due to kidney failure or from any major organ failure for that matter.
Location: Tinley Park, Illinois