I was born with two kidneys and had to have one kidney removed when I was three weeks old due to an infection. I lived a healthy life with my one kidney with close supervision until around 2014 when I was informed by my doctors that my remaining kidney had deteriorated, and I was going to have to begin dialysis.
During my time undergoing dialysis, I took night classes to become a Dialysis Technician so that I could become informed about dialysis, the dialysis machine and how it was saving my life. Taking this course gave me the confidence I needed in approaching my care and making the right decisions for myself. With this new knowledge, I was able to help in my care by ensuring that my nurses and technicians consistently practiced proper protocol.
I was on dialysis for two and a half years before receiving a kidney from a deceased donor.
My involvement with Dialysis Patient Citizens as a Patient Ambassador has given me the opportunity to continue learning and to use my gift of life to serve as an example and a voice within my community for dialysis patients. Until I attended DPC's Advocacy Day, I had no direction or experience as to how to go about advocating for dialysis patients. After meeting the DPC staff, members, fellow advocates and Patient Ambassadors at Advocacy Day 2017, I became so inspired to continue advocating with a more educated purpose.
The training day taught me how laws affect those living with kidney disease, how to speak with confidence about our cause, and prepared me to address congressional members on how important it is to recognize dialysis patients and pass bills to improve their quality of care. Having the opportunity speak to other DPC Ambassadors and advocates taught me that it can be a different experience living with ESRD depending on which state you live in pertaining to your health care and insurance.
I am dedicated to continually working to improve my fellow patients' lives by helping them to stay positive and optimistic about the changes they have to make and understand the power they have in their health care. I want to develop new ways through advocacy to educate communities on issues relating to the care of kidney failure and preventative measures to help others avoid living with ESRD. Through my experience living with kidney disease, surviving kidney failure, undergoing dialysis and now appreciating the gift of life through organ donation, I am making a difference in the lives of so many as a transplant patient.