About kidneywalk

National Walk Manager for the National Kidney Foundation

Mother and Son Share Special Bond

Darla donated a kidney to her son, Tyler. Both will walk to raise kidney disease awareness at the Dallas Kidney Walk.

 Giving life to your child is an r-DallasHildebrantopportunity that comes once for most mothers; for Fort Worth resident Darla, it’s a calling that came twice.

As a teenager, her son Tyler was an active student into fitness and football. Despite being a vigilant mother, Darla never realized that Tyler was affected by kidney disease.

“He had blood pressure problems as a teenager,” said Darla. “But I never knew that high blood pressure is an indication of kidney disease.”

Tyler started getting seriously sick in 2010, with headaches and skyrocketing blood pressure. When he went to the emergency room, doctors said they didn’t know how he was still walking — Tyler’s kidneys had failed. He was placed on dialysis for survival.

“It sucked having to get my blood filtered three times a week,” Tyler said. “You were always tired and didn’t have time to do anything you wanted to do, or eat anything you wanted to eat.”

They began the process of putting Tyler on the organ wait list, a system that can take years to fulfill a person’s need for an organ. But Darla trumped the system by offering up one of her own kidneys to save her son.

“When they found out I was a match, I was so happy that I could give him my kidney,” said Darla. “I just wanted them to hurry up. I was afraid he wasn’t going to make it.”

Now, both fully recovered, Darla and Tyler have been profoundly changed by the organ donation experience.

“I have a second chance at life,” said Tyler. “I don’t take anything for granted now — everything is special, my wife, my kids, everything I have is a blessing.”

Throughout the ordeal, the family used information provided by the National Kidney Foundation to learn more about kidney disease, kidney failure, and dialysis. Now they are looking to give back.

“I am a kidney patient and a transplant patient and I want to help spread the word about organ donation,” said Tyler. “I still go back and visit the people at the dialysis clinic. There is a lot of fear and worry surrounding transplants. People just don’t know how awesome it is.”

Tyler and his mother also participate in the Dallas Kidney Walk to show their support.

“Kidney disease and organ donation is such a big part of our lives now,” Darla said. “By walking we can support research and prevention, which will help others like us in the future.”

One Woman’s Transplant Inspires Generous Outreach

r-OC-Ackerman_Carol and Mel

In 2010, a routine physical exam revealed that Melanie A’s kidney were failing, she had no symptoms.

The 19-year-old, developmentally delayed Irvine resident was diagnosed with a kidney disease known as FSGS. She only had 27% kidney function and time was running out.

“Over the course of the next two years, we watched her kidney function slowly deteriorate down to 12%,” said Carol, Melanie’s mother.

Hoping to find a donor before Melanie needed dialysis, Carol and several family members all stepped forward to donate. However, none were suitable matches.

As the search ground on, Carol started a Facebook page called “Kidney for Melanie” and asked friends and family to “like” and “share” it with everyone they knew.  The A’s also got involved with the National Kidney Foundation, speaking at events about their story and the need for organ donors.

Then, last year, Heather B., the niece in-law of Melanie’s Godfather, Mark J., stepped forward to be tested. She was a match. Heather, who is married and has three children, drove from Arizona to LA for the July 18, 2012 surgery. Heather’s kidney started working immediately after being placed in Melanie. The nurses in the hospital called it a “best-case scenario” for Melanie.

“My doctor’s goal was to go straight to transplant with no dialysis, so it felt great to be able to do that,” Melanie said. “I can eat all kinds of favorite foods now; before I was very limited and not happy about it.”

It’s been almost a year since Melanie received the kidney transplant that changed her life. The young woman is now thriving in an adult transition program, working in a department store and continuing to go to school.

The A’s are eager to share their story to help others who have to go through the organ donation process. The As, their friends and family members will be walking at this year’s Orange County Kidney Walk held on Sunday, June 2, at Aldrich Park at UC Irvine. Melanie will be cutting the ribbon to start off the event.

The Kidney Walk is a non-competitive stroll that raises funds to fight kidney disease through awareness, prevention and treatment programs. Walkers participate as individuals or form teams with family, friends or colleagues. Those interested in getting involved or supporting a walker can visit http://www.kidneywalk.org.

“We’re coming up on one year and we want to spread the message of organ donation,” said Carol.  “We know there is so much more to be done and we are blessed to be a part of it.”

Life Changing Kidney Donation for Donor and Recipient

r-LI_Chris(Huntington Station, NY) – Receiving a kidney transplant gives those with kidney failure a second chance at life, but you rarely hear how those that donate their kidneys also have their lives forever changed.

Chris M., 38, from Huntington Station, NY, knew his life would go on a different path the moment he heard that his best friend’s kidneys were starting to fail.

“The day he told me he was going to start dialysis, I picked up the phone and called the hospital to see if I could be a donor,” Chris said.

Chris, who has worked as a Hip Hop DJ and On-Air Personality for Sirus XM and groups such as Naughty by Nature, was suddenly thrust into a new world of tests, physicals, nurses and medical jargon. Eventually, it was determined that Chris was a perfect match for his friend. Nine months after his first call to the hospital, Chris donated his kidney.

“I was the only person to get tested and I was a match,” Chris said. “The thing I remember most happened just before the surgery; I met a man who had been waiting four years for a kidney. He had tested with six family members and 20 other people and no one was ever a match. That made me realize how lucky we were. “

The ability to give his friend a new life profoundly changed Chris’ own outlook. He started volunteering with the National Kidney Foundation to talk with potential donors and recipients about living donation. He also started school again hoping to become a nurse.

“It has made me see things differently. I feel like I can do more,” Chris said. “I feel I have a type of compassion that I can share in a meaningful way with people.”

As part of his outreach efforts, Chris shares his story with hundreds who attend the Long Island Kidney Walk.

“I enjoy walks because it’s important to let people know about living donation,” Chris said. “It’s a beautiful thing, you just have to find the courage to do it.”


Alli’s Army is walking…are you?

Written by Alli, a 2014 National Kidney Walk Ambassador

Hi everyone! I hope your summer is going just as well as mine. As kidney walk season approaches, I want to remind you to sign up for your local kidney walk! As your National Ambassador, I will be participating and talking at the 2014 NYC Kidney Walk on November 9th.  If you would like to join my team visit http://www.KidneyWalk.org and search for ALLI’S ARMY.

Moreover, as summer is already half way over and we are approaching the hottest month of the year, don’t forget to drink tons of water and keep up with your diet! I have been feeling great and have kept up with my diet and exercise, so remember follow your doctor’s orders because they truly are life savors in the situation we are all in. Next time, I will be talking about back to school de-stressors (as I will finally be a SENIOR) that you can do to help your children with their chronic medical conditions.  If you would like to contact me please post here and have a great rest of your summer!

Meet Danny…

Written by Danny, a 2014 Kidney Walk National Ambassador. 

 IMG_1298I’m Daniel, twelve years old, born in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan and I have Chronic Kidney Disease.

Even before I was born, the doctors saw a potential problem with my right kidney during a routine ultrasound. My mom had to have a lot of ultrasounds so the doctors could keep an eye on things. Right after I was born, the doctors checked me out, did an ultrasound on me, and gave me the all clear. Everyone thought I was healthy and had two normal kidneys. That lasted for seven weeks.IMG_1330

It turns out that the tube extending from my right kidney to my bladder was bent – really bent. Tied up in knots kind of bent. As a result, my right kidney didn’t work at all and the damage had an effect on my left kidney as well. My left kidney is just too small to do all the work it is going to need to do to keep me healthy as I grow. I have to keep a habit of drinking more than the average amount of water per day, and I go to the University of Michigan Children’s Hospital for blood draws and clinic visits every few months. I also get an injection every evening of growth hormones so that I will grow like other kids. I know that I am going to need a new kidney one day but my parents are making sure that I get to have a normal childhood – I even went to sleep away camp for an entire month! The nurses took great care of me and, except for the contact sports I got to participate in all the activities.

Shortly after the diagnosis, my mother learned of the National Kidney Foundation, and its local branch, the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan. I have taken part in the Detroit Kidney Walk since the age of three but only began fundraising outside of my immediate family three years ago – my parents thought it was importan t that I understand the value of money before asking others to donate. In the last few years my family, friends, and even strangers have helped me raise over $25,000 to help kids and adults like me everywhere.










Stay tuned in for more blog posts written by Danny throughout the the year.P1000251

School Unites Around Transplant Teacher


It wasn’t Physical Education that had children at Barrow Elementary walking around the track in circles. The miniature Kidney Walk was in honor of 2nd grade teacher Nicole O who received a kidney transplant in 2013.

“A lot of the kids wanted to do something to show they care,” said Barrow Elementary teacher Tracey H. “Everybody at school loves Nicole, and this is a good way for kids to learn about their kidneys and show their support.”

Nicole, who lives outside of Brazoria, TX underwent the kidney transplant operation in 2013 after her kidneys failed due to a genetic kidney disease. In order to get the kidney, her husband, Eric, participated in a three-way kidney swap with other individuals in California and Missouri.

“Everything fell into place perfectly,” said Nicole of the procedure. “I felt so good afterwards that I was ready to go to work the next day.”

Now that both Eric and Nicole have fully recovered, the transplant has given Nicole the opportunity to participate in research studies that could help other transplant patients. It has also revealed to her just how widespread kidney disease is in her community.

“Since this happened, I’ve talked to a lot of people and realized that kidney disease is more common than I ever thought,” Nicole said. “I have friends who have relatives going through dialysis, you just don’t hear about it every day.”

Nicole is taking her story of hope to the Kidney Walk to support others with kidney disease and fund kidney disease research. She is honored that her co-workers and students have also stepped up for the cause, raising over $3,000 for the National Kidney Foundation.

“The school, students and everyone have been amazing and so supportive,” she said. “It’s been such a remarkable experience.”


HP Tops Kidney Walk Fundraising in 2014!

HP (2)
Hewlett-Packard (HP) employees have redefined what it means to make a difference by becoming the top corporate Kidney Walk team for the second consecutive year.

In May and June, over 200 HP staff and family members registered for the Silicon Valley and San Francisco Kidney Walks and together raised more than $52,000 to support the awareness, prevention and treatment of kidney disease. Their hard work fighting kidney disease in the Bay Area has set the bar for corporate walk teams across the nation.

HP (1)“The amount of support and enthusiasm that our HP team generated was beyond
my wildest imagination, and it reminded me why I am so proud to work for this company,” said Rebecca Gelenberg, organizer of HP’s 2014 walk efforts. “The employees here truly believe in making an impact in their communities and everyone was so willing to give their time and their money to this important cause.”

For the second year in a row, Team 3Par, a division within HP led by Dan Dias and Dolores Montano, led the pack in fundraising. 3Par successfully raised over $22,000.  Not only did they raise a huge amount of money but they showed up in force with 68 walkers. Independent of employee efforts, HP also contributed $10,000 as a Platinum Sponsor for the Silicon Valley Kidney Walk.

Last year, HP took up the kidney disease cause with gusto, surpassing the previous $35,000 corporate walk fundraising record, while HP CEO Meg Whitman and HP Board Member Ann Livermore were honored as the Bay Area Corporate Walk Chairs. Livermore has a personal connection to kidney disease — she received a kidney transplant in 2005 and has been an advocate for organ donation and kidney disease awareness.

“It’s great to see HP employees build on the momentum and really understand why this is such an important public health issue in our country,” said Livermore, a former HP Executive Vice President. “As a company, HP pledges to Make it Matter. It’s impressive to see HP employees live up to that motto by making a difference in the lives of kidney patients in our community.”

In California alone, more than 55,000 people receive dialysis treatment for kidney failure and 18,000 are on the waiting list for a life-saving kidney transplant. It is estimated that 1 in 9 Californians have kidney disease, and most don’t know it because symptoms usually appear late in the disease’s progression.

HP (3)“Many of us were shocked to learn how prevalent kidney disease is and how many people are impacted either personally or through friends and family,” said Rebecca. “We are proud to get the word out, and to represent the mission of the National Kidney Foundation. The work that they do is so important to our communities, and it is an honor to support them.”