Atlanta Radio Host Taking Kidney Disease Message to the Streets

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Radio is life for Gary Young, an on-air personality with Kiss 104.1.

Young has been broadcasting and programming at radio stations from Philadelphia to Milwaukee to Jacksonville for the past 35 years, but he almost lost his livelihood, and his life, as a result of kidney disease.

“At the time, I was having really bad headaches and decided to walk into a clinic. They saw the top number of my blood pressure and didn’t even bother with the bottom number,” Young said. “They were asking how I was even able to walk in there.”

When doctors were finally able to control his blood pressure, it was too late. Young was told that he would eventually need a kidney transplant due to kidney damage and the onset of chronic kidney disease.

“That was shocking,” he said. “It was something I never thought would happen to me and I didn’t even know much about it even though I lost my mother to renal failure.”

A year after his diagnosis, Young was told that he needed to go one dialysis — his kidneys had failed. Luckily, his daughter, Kelly, was a willing and compatible donor. As if to underline the special connection, the transplant happened on Father’s Day weekend, 2009.

“I felt so blessed,” he said. “She was so excited to do it. She just kept saying how much she wanted to do it, and how much she loved her dad. It was the best gift a father could receive.”

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Now Young is trying to spread the word about kidney disease and its risk factors. As part of that effort he is joining with the National Kidney Foundation to for the Atlanta Kidney Walk. Young will be participating along with friends, family and co-workers from Cox Media Group.

“Going through this and having a transplant, I really wanted to find a way to give back,” he said. “This is this first way I can do that.”

Co-Workers Share Office and an Organ

r-_BostonBillnDeb Deb Dalton gave a kidney to Bill McIntire in December; they will spread organ donor awareness at the Boston Kidney Walk on October 28.

Sharing an office doesn’t always mean you’d be willing to share the gift of life with the person in the next cubicle, but that’s exactly what happened at one Wakefield, Massachusetts business.

 Bill McIntire, a sales manager at Persian Acceptance Corporation, was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy, a form of kidney disease, when he was 23. While his condition was stable throughout his 20s and 30s, he began developing symptoms including hypertension and gout, and his doctors noticed a steady decline in his kidney function.

 “I was gradually losing my kidney function,” McIntire said. “In 2006 we started talking about the inevitability of transplant as the best option.”

 McIntire started looking everywhere for someone who’d give up a kidney but it is difficult to find a willing donor, let alone someone who is also biologically compatible. McIntire was ready to give up his extensive search and resign himself to a life tethered to a dialysis machine while waiting for a cadaver donation –when a co-worker, Deb Dalton stepped forward to be tested. She was a perfect match.

 “It seemed like the right thing to do,” Dalton said. “I checked my family’s medical history and realized we didn’t have kidney disease so I got myself tested. The way I viewed it –you don’t need two kidneys and Bill needed one. It didn’t seem right that he should have to go on dialysis.”

McIntire was blown away by the 11th hour gesture.

 “Deb and I were always friendly, but I never thought she’d be that kind of friend,” McIntire said. “That’s the real miracle of the story — that she came forward and was so willing to donate.”

The surgery occurred in December, and after a quick recovery, both Bill and Deb were back in the office and feeling great.

“I would do it again if I could,” Dalton said. “It wasn’t a big deal, and I think more people should consider becoming organ donors or living donors if they aren’t at risk for kidney disease.”

Both Dalton and McIntire are now using their story to spread awareness about kidney disease and the need for organ donors. They will participated in the Boston Kidney Walk on October 28.

“People don’t realize how common kidney disease is,” McIntire said. “The cause obviously means a lot to me, and although I hate clichés, I really want to give back.”

Fundraising is Easy!

Walk_Lockup_NewLogo        How To Raise $300 In A Week:

 Day 1:  Start by sponsoring yourself for $30.  Set up your personal Kidney Walk fundraising webpage and email your friends to sponsor you.

Day 2:  Ask two family members to sponsor you for $30 each.

Day 3:  Ask four friends to contribute $10 each.

Day 4:  Ask three co-workers to sponsor you for $10 each.

Day 5:  Ask four neighbors to contribute $10 cash.

Day 6:  Ask your boss for a company contribution of $50.

Day 7:  Ask a business you frequent for $50.

 The key is to ask! 

The answer is always no, unless you ask!

Tot Saved by Mother’s Transplant

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Andrew Johnson and his family spread organ donor awareness at the Boston Kidney Walk

 Four-year-old Andrew Johnson is an energetic kid who loves preschool, swimming and ice skating.

No one would believe that at one point, medical professionals didn’t think Andrew was going to have a chance at a normal life. Only 19 weeks into her pregnancy, Tara Johnson and her husband, Kevin, learned that their baby had a serious blockage in his urethra. When he was born, it was discovered that the blockage had caused severe kidney damage. Within a year, baby Andrew was placed on dialysis while Tara and Kevin struggled to get him to a proper weight so he could be eligible for a life-saving kidney transplant.

Then in March 2011, Tara gave Andrew life for the second time, when she donated one of her kidneys.

“The donation part was easy,” she said. “Who wouldn’t do that for her child? There was so much preparation to get him ready, so for us it was incredible finally getting to that day.”

And today, he’s no different than any of his peers.

“It’s funny what a new kidney will do to you,” said Tara.

And yet, the Johnsons are already planning for Andrew’s next challenge – the likelihood that he will need another kidney in his teenage years. Kevin is a blood type match and will likely be the next donor in line.

“Although kidney transplants are lasting longer and longer, they still don’t last forever,” said Kevin. “And yet who knows what advances in medical technology will mean for Andrew?”

The Johnson family is now using their story to spread awareness about kidney disease and the need for organ donors and kidney research. The family participated in the Boston Kidney Walk in October.

“Andrew has been able to live beautifully for the past four years because of research and advances that have been supported and advocated for by the National Kidney Foundation,” Tara said. “We’re walking to bring people together, and to celebrate the positive outcomes for everyone like Andrew.”

Drum Roll Please…

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We could not fulfill the mission of the National Kidney Foundation without the support of our volunteers and partners.  We are pleased to welcome back Equus Capital Partners and Madison Apartment Group for their third year as National Teams for Kidney Walk.  Both teams started particpating in their local Kidney Walk in Philadelphia and have grown to involve thier staff across the country.  THANK YOU EQUUS and MADISON for all your support!

EQUUS CAPITAL PARTNERS

Equus

Equus Capital Partners, formerly BPG Properties, Ltd. is one of the nation’s leading private equity real estate fund managers.  Equus’ portfolio consists of over 24 million square feet of office, retail, student housing, and industrial properties and more than 18,000 apartment units in over 70 communities located throughout the United States. The firm is headquartered in the Philadelphia area with regional offices in Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington DC, Boston, Atlanta and Raleigh-Durham. For additional information, please visit the company’s website at www.equuspartners.com.

MADISON APARTMENT GROUP, L.P.

Madison

Madison Apartment Group, L.P. is the multi-family operating arm of Equus Capital Partners, Ltd., one of the nation’s leading private equity real estate fund managers.  Since its formation in 2001, Madison has overseen the operations and management of Equus’ multi-family interests throughout the United States.  Currently, the company manages nearly 18,000 apartment units in over 70 multi-family communities on behalf of Equus.  For additional information, please visit the company’s website at www.madisonapartmentgroup.com.

Transplants Save Life, Twice

Not everyone gets a second chance, let alone a third chance, at life; but Mike Maker is one of the few who have had not one, but two kidney transplants. r-MikeBoston_andColleen“I certainly wouldn’t be here and healthy today if it weren’t for my two kidney donors,” Mike said. “Luckily, I had very loving and willing people in my life. I know not everyone is so lucky.”

Mike’s kidney problems began when he was still a teenager. At the time, he was having trouble walking and his legs were hurting. Investigation by doctors found that one of his kidneys had failed and the other was following suit.

“I was only 16 and I needed a transplant immediately,” he said

In July of 2002, Mike received the first kidney from his mother Fiona. It was a gift that lasted nine years until 2011 when the medications he was taking to prevent his body from rejecting the donated kidney were found to be damaging the very organ that was keeping him alive. Mike was placed on dialysis for most of 2011 when his fiancé, Colleen, stepped forward to be his second donor.

“The second one was scarier than the first; there is a lot more that can go wrong,” Mike said. “But we both recovered just fine and we were able to get married and even enjoy our happy honeymoon in Belize.”

Mike is now using his story to spread awareness about kidney disease and the need for organ donors. He and his wife both participated in the Boston Kidney Walk on October 28.

“My efforts are to raise awareness for organ donors,” Mike said. “A lot of this can be avoided if there are people willing to donate. You just have to look at me and see that transplants do save people’s lives. This is something people can do for someone else in need.”

One Fateful Kidney Stone

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Kate Hetzel had a kidney stone that changed her life, now she spreads kidney disease awareness at the Philadelphia Kidney Walk.

 

A kidney stone both changed, and saved, Kate Hetzel’s life. The 24-year-old nurse was told that the kidney stone was the least of her worries when she went the doctor. There was a cancerous mass on her right kidney. After battling the cancer, and undergoing the removal of her kidney, Kate is now making strides to spread kidney disease awareness and is participating in the Philadelphia Kidney Walk.

“I had a kidney stone and went in to get a scan done,” Hetzel said. “They found the stone, but they also found a mass on my right kidney. It was the luckiest kidney stone anyone could have had.”

Hetzel was diagnosed with kidney cancer and doctors performed a partial removal of her kidney. However, the cancer spread to her lymph nodes, a rare occurrence called kidney translocation carcinoma.  After additional surgery and the full removal of the problem kidney, Hetzel’s condition stabilized and now she is making it a goal to spread kidney disease awareness.

“I am down to one kidney, but I am feeling good,” she said. “It was after my surgery that I learned about the Kidney Walk while I was looking to see if there were any organizations dedicated to helping those with kidney translocation carcinoma or other kidney diseases.”

“I walk to raise awareness because even people at a young age can have kidney problems,” Hetzel said. “That’s a big misconception out there, and I know, kidney disease can happen to someone young as well as old.”