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Published on August 26, 2013

For Kevin Lewis, kidney disease is part of the family

Families often share similar genes, everything from hair color to height. For Kevin Lewis, 52, and his family, one of the most dominant traits has been polycystic kidney disease (PKD), which has affected his mother, brother, three sons, aunts, uncles and cousins.

“They say there is about a 50 percent chance of getting it handed down, but it seems to be very dominant in our family,” said Lewis.

Like many of his family members before him, Lewis’ PKD recently progressed into kidney failure. Now, the Linn County construction worker and part-time semi driver survives by checking into the Mercy Dialysis Center in Cedar Rapids three times a week. Lewis has been receiving dialysis for 13 months. During that time, he’s become an active volunteer with Mercy as an educator and advocate for others in his community who are living with kidney disease.

In Iowa, almost 5,000 people are being treated for kidney failure and more than 450 are awaiting lifesaving kidney transplants. Lewis is one of those individuals now on the wait list. He is monitoring his health for the next six months as part of the process to see if he is a suitable transplant candidate.

There are more than 73 million Americans at risk of developing kidney disease. Anyone with high blood pressure, diabetes, a family history of kidney failure, and anyone older than 60 is at risk. That is one of the reasons why Lewis has decided to help spread awareness of kidney disease by participating in the National Kidney Foundation’s Eastern Iowa Kidney Walk on Sunday, September 15.

The Kidney Walk is the nation's largest walk to fight kidney disease. Held in nearly 100 communities, the event raises awareness and funds lifesaving programs that educate and support patients, their families and those at risk.

“We’re supporting the Kidney Walk to get the word out and help others understand kidney disease,” he said. Lewis also wants to get other kidney patients to stand up for themselves and their health. “Be an advocate, ask questions and speak up. Education is very important when it comes to kidney disease because there is so much each person can do to slow the disease’s progression.”

On-site registration for the Eastern Iowa Kidney Walk begins at 2 p.m. and the walk begins at 3 p.m. Teams and individual walkers of all ages are invited to participate and fundraise to fight kidney disease. To register for the Kidney Walk, visit www.kidneywalk.org or call (515) 222-2264 for more information.

Quick Kidney Facts:

  • 1 in 3 American adults is at risk for kidney disease.
  • 1 in 9 American adults has kidney disease – and most don't know it.
  • High blood pressure and diabetes are the two leading causes of kidney disease.
  • Kidney disease kills more than 90,000 Americans every year –more than breast and prostate cancer combined.

The National Kidney Foundation is the leading organization in the U.S. dedicated to the awareness, prevention and treatment of kidney disease for hundreds of thousands of healthcare professionals, millions of patients and their families, and tens of millions of Americans at risk. Learn more about kidney disease and the Kidney Walk at www.kidneywalk.org.

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