Countdown To A Kidney

Gary Kaye, Chief Content Officer, Tech 50+

Gary Kaye, a business friend of mine,  shares his emotional journey through a kidney transplant and the technology that will make it all possible. 

Here is a link to his blog and a copy below.

Just about everyone I know has a favorite time of year. It could be Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or a birthday. The one event I look forward to most each year is my fall foliage biking trip with my son, Max. We’ve been doing it for 22 years. But not this year. This October, we’re going on a different kind of adventure. Max will be donating a kidney to me. What do you say about a son who is willing to give up a part of his body to keep his old man alive? How do I sufficiently express my love, gratitude, and admiration for what he’s doing? The words just don’t seem adequate.

Several friends have suggested that there may be other people interested in my story. So, I’ve decided to write about how I got here, and what I’m going through. I’m also working with the National Kidney Foundation to spread the word about the prevalence of kidney disease and the desperate need for organ donations.


According  to the National Kidney Foundation, about 26 million adult Americans suffer from Chronic Kidney Disease. Most don’t know it.
Here are some other facts:

*Once the kidneys fail, dialysis or a kidney transplant is required in order to survive.

*More than 661,000 Americans have kidney failure. Of these, 468,000 individuals are on dialysis and approximately 193,000 live with a functioning kidney transplant.

*According to the latest figures (April of 2016), 100,102 await kidney transplants. Fewer than 17,000 people receive one each year.

*More than 3000 people are added to the kidney transplant list each month.

*Every day, 13 people die waiting for a kidney

The primary causes of kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure. With 29 million Americans suffering from diabetes (8 million undiagnosed), the numbers are only going to get worse.

I have suffered from Type II diabetes for more than thirty years. Most likely because of lifestyle, food, lack of exercise, and minor genetic pre-disposition. When I was first diagnosed, I will admit I didn’t take it nearly as seriously as I should have. I took the meds, but made few changes in lifestyle or diet. For the next two decades things only got worse. I suffered from what’s called diabetic retinopathy, which resulted in temporary blindness and required extensive laser treatments. I worked long hours and overnight shifts that only exacerbated the deterioration.

Diagnosis: Failing Kidneys.

About five years ago I was told my kidney function was down to 15% of normal and that the progressive nature of kidney disease was such that it was almost a certainty that eventually my kidneys would fail. While my doctor wouldn’t predict how long before that we happen, his guess was that it could happen within five years. After closely monitoring my numbers, he suggested to me in the late winter of this year that I attend a program called “Kidney Smart,” run by DaVita. 

The class ran a couple of hours and included folks suffering from early stage kidney disease as well as those suffering End Stage Renal Failure (that’s me). The nurse reviewed dietary issues, medication, but primarily focused on the “what happens next?” She detailed the two primary forms of treatment: dialysis and transplant. I wasn’t thrilled with what lay behind door number one, or door number two. More on that next time.

Here are some useful links from the National Kidney Foundation:

General kidney disease info: https://www.kidney.org/kidneydisease/aboutckd

Statistics on organ donation: https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/orgdonor

Organ donor heroes on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nationalkidneyfoundation/app/181518015386164/

TAGSAARPbaby boomersbikingboomer techDaVitadiabetesdialysishealthhigh blood pressure

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