Kidney transplant recipient shares story to spread awareness
An estimated 37 million adults in the U.S. suffer from chronic kidney disease, yet most of those people have no idea their kidneys may be impaired.
According to the National Kidney Foundation, kidney disease affects about one in seven adults and often goes undiagnosed because early stages of the disease oftentimes don't show symptoms.
One of those people affected by chronic kidney disease is Maria Jimenez.
"I ended up with kidney failure when I was 23 years old," said Jimenez.
Jimenez says it all started when she began feeling nauseous and experiencing headaches, plus swelling of her feet and hands.
"I started experiencing symptoms only two weeks prior to ending up in the hospital," said Jimenez. "I ended up in the ER and they confirmed that I had kidney failure and I needed to start dialysis right away."
After five years of hemodialysis in a clinic, Jimenez made the transition to home hemodialysis after some encouragement from her doctors.
"I started to feel better with more energy, my overall health improved and it also gave me a lot more flexibility on my schedule," said Jimenez.
Jimenez eventually got the call she had been waiting for.
"In 2017, I was fortunate and blessed to be able to receive a kidney transplant and it's been working wonderfully since then," said Jimenez.
But Jimenez is not alone, as an estimated 15% of US adults are living with chronic kidney disease, or CKD.
"Your kidneys lose the ability to filter waste, filter toxins, filter fluid," said Kathleen Belmonte, Chief Nursing Officer at Fresenius Kidney Care.
Belmonte says it's important to understand the risk factors of this disease.
"High blood pressure hypertension and diabetes are the two leading causes," said Belmonte. "They make up 75 percent of CKD diagnoses."
Other risk factors include advanced age and a family history of the disease. Belmonte says most people don't feel symptoms in the early stages of chronic kidney disease, which is why annual screenings are necessary.
"It will help to understand what the health of your kidneys is and keep them very healthy, and help us think about how we can slow or even halt the progression of chronic kidney disease," said Belmonte.
As for Jimenez, she is now an advocate for the disease and hopes her story can inspire others.
"I want to be able to empower them and encourage them that even with a chronic kidney disease diagnosis, or even needing dialysis, they can still thrive and live a good quality life," said Jimenez.
According to Fresenius Kidney Care, more than 100,000 people are currently waiting for a kidney transplant in the U.S.
For more information on Chronic Kidney Disease, you can visit freseniuskidneycare.com.