4.5 million people across the nation have kidney disease. But Thursday, patients, families, and caregivers got together at the Texas Kidney Foundation's Kidney Patient Symposium to learn more about how they can battle the illness.
"I didn't feel like I was through with this world. I wanted to do more," said Marion Sweatmon, who is currently on dialysis.
That's how the 81-year-old felt when he was told he had kidney disease last October. "It hit me so hard that a lot of doctors wanted to give up on me but my doctor didn't," Sweatmon said.
His wife Carol, who was attending the symposium with her husband, said, "It's unimaginable now to think that there was a time when people were telling him to give up. In fact the doctors and the nurses are astounded."
Now on dialysis he's now living a near-normal life. That's just one of the many stories heard here at the Texas Kidney Foundation Kidney Patient Symposium.
Joanne Ebert is another dialysis patient KENS 5 spoke with. She was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease 20 years ago. "It's still had its impact but it was not something I was totally not expecting," said Ebert. That's because it's hereditary. "If you have a living donor it goes a lot quicker but because this runs in my family and my daughter has it we can't pass to each other," Ebert said.
Like Sweatmon, dialysis is keeping her alive.
"If you are on dialysis it's a good thing. It can provide things that the kidney can no longer provide. It can remove fluids. It can control potassium. It can control the sodium the salt or the swelling," said Dr. Karina Vasquez, a nephrologist from the San Antonio Kidney Disease Center.
Many at the symposium came to see a wearable artificial kidney. With this groundbreaking device patients will be able to eat foods they wouldn't normally be able to eat, continue to work and play as they normally would, and live longer, fuller lives. Which is exactly what Ebert says kidney patients need to do. She said, "It's not the end of your life it's what you make of it."
(© 2016 KENS)