NKF launches Heart Your Kidneys Campaign

Heart Your Kidneys (HYK) is our public awareness campaign; as an activist organization, Heart Your Kidneys elevates the kidneys to the status of other vital organs such as the heart.

  • Kidneys are our body’s small, but powerful, chemical factories; working 24/7 to remove waste and keep our blood pressure in check.
  • It only takes two simple tests at your primary care doctor’s office to check for any red flags.
  • Let’s make kidney health part of everyday conversations with the same urgency as heart disease, cancer, or diabetes.

Donate NOW to support those impacted with kidney disease. Your donation will support patient’s right here in your community.

In 1998 I was a physically active father of two without any limitations. As a recent graduate and Natural Resources Officer life was good! Than my life changed – after experiencing unexplained fatigue and swelling I saw my doctor. Blood tests revealed that my kidneys were failing and I was referred to Johns Hopkins. Next, I learned that because of the advanced stage of my renal failure a biopsy would be necessary. As a result I was diagnosed with FSGS – Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, which would require a kidney transplant or I would need to start dialysis to continue to live.

 Dialysis is extremely invasive to the human body but, it prolongs life. My life was drastically changed forever. I began dialysis treatment three days a week for four hours with no end in sight. I felt worst than I had ever felt in my life. This fight was against a bully who is known as a silent killer. This bully is called Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). I was unfamiliar with the precautions, prescriptions and terms I was being told. I just wanted to feel better, my family needed me and I didn’t want to die.

 My routine was no longer routine for me. This Chronic Kidney Disease bully was barging in – it was a dark gloomy and lonely period in my life. I became a social hermit secluding myself from friends, family and anyone that was there before the Kidney Disease bully invaded my life. This Kidney Disease bully took away any life I had or thought about having. I was being bullied physically, emotionally and socially. My wife never gave up on me; she encouraged me not to hibernate from life. I gave in reluctantly all the while still with the CKD bully never far from my every thought. I went to dialysis treatment becoming a self described reserved introvert. I was blessed to have two kidney transplants that lasted a total of 8 years. During that time I did not have to receive dialysis treatment. There was light!

 However, the Kidney Disease bully returned in March 2014. Once again faced with kidney failure I had no choice but to return to dialysis for the 3rd time! This time despite being told I would need a live donor, I refused to be bullied and just exist. My wife and I attend any and all informational seminars and classes. We now bully Kidney Disease together by spreading awareness, giving support, encouraging advocacy and promoting prevention.

By Ray Harris, Kidney Patient and Advocate for Kidney Health