Stephen Preusz’s story about his sudden diagnosis of kidney failure at the age of 29 hit home. Here’s a healthy guy, one who was an athlete in high school and college, and who participated in several Strongman Challenges in his 20s, and then he starts to feel like he’s getting the flu. As his symptoms get worse, his then-fiancée/now-wife, Ashley, brings him to the emergency room, and subsequent testing reveals he had 6 percent kidney function.
He was in end-stage kidney failure.
Earlier that evening, he was watching the Oklahoma-Texas football game with his brother, who had flown in from Indiana to celebrate his birthday. Later, he noticed that his ankles were swollen, and he woke up at 2 a.m. sweaty and began vomiting profusely. Ashley brings him to the hospital and one of the first checks for blood pressure was wildly high, at 220/120 (normal ranges are below 120/80).
His kidney failure was spurred by a previously undiagnosed autoimmune-related disease, IGA nephropathy. And with autoimmune diseases on the rise (read more here), I found his story frightening and all too real. Our family has been touched by the autoimmune disease lupus, and we sadly lost my lovely aunt, Myla, in 1980, after her body rejected her kidney transplant.
There are so many people waiting for a kidney transplant, as Steve points out in his blog posts, and since his transplant, he started a nonprofit, A Charitable Life, to help other patients with the enormous costs accrued during the process.