COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — March celebrates National Kidney Month, as more than 37 million people in the U.S. are estimated to have chronic kidney disease.
“Kidney disease is a disease multiplier,” said Transplant Nephrologist Dr. Uday Nori with the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “It adds on and multiplies common systemic causes like high blood pressure and diabetes.”
Aaron Gall is one of the nearly 15% of US adults who have kidney disease. According to the CDC, almost 9 in 10 with the disease don’t realize they have it, and nearly 40% of those with a severe kidney disease also are unaware.
“Vast majority of people say my kidney disease is equal to, I have time,” said Nori. “It is completely wrong. There is no time.”
Gall has been working through his disease since he was 28, when he fell down at a birthday party. The accident led him to find out he was ill.
“I had a headache for like a week. So, I went to get checked out and they told me I had high blood pressure,” he said. “And when they did further look into what my numbers and blood work was, it came back I was at 35 percent kidney function,” he said.
He changed his lifestyle and diet to combat the disease and tried to slow his kidney decline.
“No meat. It was nothing but vegetables and fruits that I could have as a kidney patient,” he said.
The change in diet helped slow the kidney decline, but he felt tired and drained all the time. That lasted an entire year before he had to make the decision to begin dialysis.
“I hook up to a machine before I go to sleep. And then when I wake up I unhook and go about my day. Before I was doing manual exchanges four times a day, which was tedious,” he explained.
Gall teaches martial arts classes at Ohio State. Being drained and tired made it harder for him to do his job. Since going on the nighttime dialysis machine, he’s bounced back.
“My energy levels are through the roof so I can kind of jump in with students now,” Gall said. “I would’ve went completely unchecked and it would’ve declined a lot faster than it has and I probably wouldn’t be here,” he said, in the end grateful for that fall 8 years ago.
Nori explained that more than 100,000 people are on the waitlist for organ donation and less than 25% of them will receive the organ they need in a given year.