In these testimonial videos, dialysis patients, living donors, and transplant recipients share their stories about how their lives have been affected by kidney disease, and how with support, being proactive in healthcare, and a willingness to give and receive help, their lives have been transformed.
Norma Araos
Norma is a Peer Educator who appears in MNITF's documentary Changing Lives, on FixingPaco.org. She is also a two-time kidney transplant recipient who was diagnosed with renal failure, due to high blood pressure, at the age of 27. After spending three years on dialysis, Norma received her first kidney transplant, but her donated kidney failed after three years. After going back on dialysis and struggling for nine years, Norma finally received her second kidney transplant in July 2014. As a result of her transplant, Norma has once again been able to travel to see her mother, and she feels profound gratitude for her donor's generosity and the gift of a second chance.
Jeanne & Keenan Cheung
Jeanne and Keenan's love story involves a marriage, three children, a husband's kidney failure, and a wife's willingness to do anything to save him. When Keenan was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease—as his father, grandfather, aunt, and uncle were before him—he wasn't surprised. And with Keenan on dialysis and three young boys at home, Jeanne was desperate to help. She wanted to give Keenan one of her kidneys but learned that she wasn't a compatible match. It was a letter from Dr. Jeff Veale, the Director of the UCLA Kidney Transplantation Exchange Program, which changed everything. At Dr. Veale's invitation, Jeanne and Keenan became part of the Nick Damon Memorial Kidney Chain, started by altruistic donor Harry Damon in honor of his deceased son, Nick. Through the Kidney Chain, Jeanne was able to "pay it forward" and donate her kidney to a woman in the chain, and Keenan was able to receive a lifesaving kidney transplant from a young man (Reginal Griffin) in the chain whose mother received Harry Damon's donated kidney. To learn more about the Nick Damon Memorial Kidney Chain and the extraordinary way that it touched many lives, CLICK HERE.
DeWayne Cox
DeWayne is a dialysis patient who has transformed his serious health struggles into a passion for helping others. When DeWayne was first diagnosed with kidney failure, he tried to end his life because he couldn't imagine living his life on dialysis. But things began to change when he finally began dialysis and realized that he wasn't alone. In fact, his hope returned with a newfound commitment to helping other dialysis patients. Today, DeWayne inspires others as part of the American Kidney Fund (AKF) Advocacy Network and credits the AKF with helping him during some of his most trying moments. A professional filmmaker, DeWayne has made it his mission to educate people about kidney disease and to positively influence health legislation. When DeWayne learned that a bill was being proposed that would cut funding for dialysis patient care, he swung into action. His film, The Real Faces of Dialysis, which was screened for several lawmakers, features interviews with patients who struggle with kidney disease and provides a firsthand view of "the people behind the spreadsheets" who work hard to live as best they can on dialysis.
Reginal "Reggie" Griffin
Reginal is a living donor who participated in the Nick Damon Memorial Kidney Chain in order to help his mother Sheila. Sheila's struggle with kidney failure began when Reginal was in high school and was the result of lupus attacking her kidneys. Reginal remained devoted to Sheila throughout her seven years on dialysis, always praying for a miracle and doing what he could to support her, and he managed to complete college studies to become a certified audio recording and music production engineer in the process. He wanted to give his mother a kidney, but he was not a compatible match. So when he learned that he could "pay it forward" as part of the Kidney Chain and donate his kidney so that his mother could receive a transplant, he embraced the opportunity. Reginal's kidney became the gift of life for Keenan Cheung, a father of three who was in desperate need of a transplant, and Sheila received Harry Damon's kidney, the altruistic donor who started the Kidney Chain in honor of his deceased son, Nick. Today, Reginal is the father of a young daughter, and he cherishes the fact that his mom is healthy and gets to be his little girl's grandmother. To learn more about the Nick Damon Memorial Kidney Chain and the extraordinary way that it touched many lives, CLICK HERE.
Lilly Hernandez
Lilly is a dialysis patient who was diagnosed in 2011 with a rare kidney disease called IGA nephropathy (also known as Berger's Disease). Lilly was only 20 years old at the time and her kidneys were so severely damaged that her doctors recommended a transplant within six months to avoid dialysis. Lilly was determined to fight and dove into researching kidney health to learn what she could do to help herself. And she did. Lilly adopted a healthy lifestyle and began practicing yoga and meditation—she even went to yoga school and got certified to teach! But in September of 2014, Lilly learned that she was in end-stage renal failure and ultimately began dialysis treatments. However, Lilly has completely transformed her experience into a blessing. Also a patient there, she now works for the UCLA Health System and sees firsthand what a difference being dedicated to a healthy lifestyle makes. Lilly carries her positive message to other patients and works to educate them about the vital role that nutrition and exercise play in staying positive and living your best life while on dialysis.
Claudia Sanchez
Claudia is a Peer Educator who appears in MNITF's documentary Changing Lives, on FixingPaco.org. She is also a kidney/pancreas transplant recipient. Before becoming a Peer Educator, Claudia was actively involved in speaking to dialysis about the benefits of receiving a transplant, and with the assistance of some dedicated social workers, she started a support group for dialysis patients in the San Fernando Valley. Claudia always had a passion for staying active but due to her diabetes and kidney failure, she could not exercise as much as she wanted to. After her transplant, she had the energy and physical stamina that she lacked before, and on March 1, 2008, Claudia finished the Los Angeles Marathon in five hours and 48 minutes, proudly wearing a "Donate Life" race bib to promote organ donation—and since then, she has completed three half-marathons! As a Peer Educator, Claudia is a great example of being proactive in one's healthcare and maintaining health through diet and exercise.
Want to make a difference in the life of someone who is suffering from kidney disease or kidney failure? Text the word KIDNEY to 21000 where you can make a tax-deductible donation of any amount to MNITF! Your generosity makes our work possible!