By Jim Myers, Transplant Recipient and Kidney Advocacy Committee advocate
My name is James Myers and I’m a polycystic kidney disease (PKD) patient. PKD is an inherited form of chronic kidney disease where liquid filled cysts form on one’s kidneys. Most often it leads to high blood pressure, abdominal pain, and then kidney failure.
I was diagnosed at the age of 25, almost 40 years ago. PKD runs in my family. I’ve lost five members of my family to PKD, including my Dad. When he passed away in 1983, I was tested. On a simple x-ray, they were able to detect the large cysts on both of my kidneys. This came as a blow to me, then a young practicing attorney. I was referred to Indiana University Health in Indianapolis. They put me on high blood pressure medication, on a renal diet, and took blood and urine from me every six months.
Because I was tested and treated early in my life, I was able to postpone having to be on dialysis for 23 years, until the age of 58. My dialysis was also easier on me than many of my clinic-mates and I was transplanted in four years – shorter than the average time in Indiana.
The fact that I was diagnosed and treated early on in my life has made a huge difference! The fact that my family doctor knew to make a quick referral to a nephrologist made a huge difference. Their team approach to my case saved my life. This is what H.R. 3867 is all about. This legislation would help doctors detect kidney disease earlier, when something can be done to slow the progression of the disease and improve the lives of patients.
My case shows that the early detection and treatment of kidney disease can prolong and improve a kidney patient’s life. I’m living proof of that. Please support the early detection and treatment legislation proposed by the National Kidney Foundation by sending your legislators a letter asking that they become a co-sponsor. By getting Congress to pass this law, we can save many more lives!