I am Tony’s kidney, and this is my story. I have a twin brother. Each of us is the size of a fist, and shaped like a kidney bean. We live about half way down Tony’s body, one on each side of his spine. I’m on the left; my brother is on the right.
We don’t get a lot of respect, not like other parts of Tony’s body. People always talk about the heart and the lungs as if they are the most important organs. But we kidneys do some important jobs for Tony.
Tony now knows his best defense is knowledge, so he is learning all about kidneys, kidney failure, kidney transplants, and dialysis.
One of our most important jobs is to filter the waste products that Tony produces when he eats food and when he moves his muscles. We remove waste by producing urine that passes out of his body. If he does not get rid of the waste, Tony gets sick. He can even die.
We kidneys also get rid of water and salt, and that helps control Tony’s blood pressure. And we make things called hormones that help produce red blood cells. The red cells are very important because they carry oxygen and nutrition throughout Tony’s body.
We do our job 24 hours a day and we rarely cause any problems. Yet Tony does not always take care of his body. Then we have problems.
Tony didn’t control his blood pressure, and he developed a disease called diabetes. High blood pressure and diabetes caused what’s called kidney failure, so now my brother and I can no longer do the job we were designed to do.
However, Tony got smart, and he went to a doctor, a nephrologist, who deals with kidneys. The doctor identified symptoms that pointed to kidney failure, and he began treating Tony’s blood pressure and diabetes. He prescribed medicine, put Tony on a diet, and got him to start exercising.
The nephrologist helped Tony keep us working as long as possible. He also taught Tony about different types of dialysis, a procedure that can help us do our job. He even talked about a kidney transplant. That’s a bit of a long shot, but it’s something to consider.
Tony now knows his best defense is knowledge, so he is learning all about kidneys, kidney failure, kidney transplants, and dialysis. He recently chose PD dialysis, that’s peritoneal dialysis, a procedure he does at home, and he’s feeling better each day.
He knows how important we are, and he is doing everything possible to keep us working, along with our brothers the brain, heart, lungs, blood, and pancreas. He made a positive decision about his health by scheduling regular doctor visits, by learning all about us, and by making lifestyle changes. My brother and I are thrilled. We are ready for whatever may happen in the future.
Thanks for listening to our story. Please make a positive decision. Learn all you can about your kidneys. It may save your life.
Ferris Anthony is from Ohio. Because “Ferris” is an unusual first name, his friends call him “Tony.” Tony earned his Ph.D. at Michigan State University. He is a retired dean and professor of education. He has been living with kidney disease for about four years and began peritoneal dialysis in May, 2017. He plays cello and harp, and he draws, paints, and sculpts. He volunteers with several non-profit organizations.
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