Dean Kiefer knows a lot about second chances. The 62-year-old Cohocton resident has been living an entirely new life since he received a kidney last year. “It’s been truly life changing,” he said. “It means so much that a person stepped up to save the life of somebody else. It is just mind boggling.”
Kiefer has polycystic kidney disease which causes cysts to develop on the kidneys eventually reducing their ability to filter toxins from the blood. As a result, Kiefer’s kidney failed and he was placed on dialysis for a year and a half.
He would have remained on dialysis while waiting for a kidney transplant — a process that can take many years. However, his son’s childhood friend, Mat Shetler, stepped up to be tested as a potential donor. To everyone’s surprise, Mat was a perfect match. The operation went through without a hitch in July 2012.
“Things couldn’t have gone better for me,” Kiefer said. “I am so grateful that the hardship and uncertainty of life on dialysis is gone, but at the same time I know there are a lot of other people still at the dialysis clinic who can’t get a transplant. That is difficult to think about.”
This year, Kiefer, his family and his living donor, Mat, will make the trip to participate in the Rochester Kidney Walk as a way to send a positive message to those who have kidney disease, and those who are waiting for a transplant.
“We want to get our message and story out to the public,” Kiefer said. “There are so many who might be willing to step up and make a living donation, or at least register to be organ donors, if they knew how much it could make a difference.”
The Kidney Walk is a non-competitive stroll that raises funds to fight kidney disease through local awareness, prevention and treatment programs. Walkers participate as individuals or form teams with family, friends or colleagues. The Rochester Kidney Walk will take place on September 15 at Frontier Field. Those interested in getting involved or supporting a walker can visit www.kidneywalk.org.
What: The National Kidney Foundation’s Rochester Kidney Walk
When: September 15, 2013, Registration at 8:30am; Walk at 10am.
Where: Frontier Field
Details: Registration and more information at www.kidneywalk.org.
- More than 26 Million Americans – 1 in 9 adults – have chronic kidney disease and most don’t know it.
- 73 million American adults are at risk due to high blood pressure, diabetes or a family history of kidney disease.
- Kidney disease kills 90,000 each year – more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.
The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is the leading organization in the U.S. dedicated to the awareness, prevention and treatment of kidney disease for hundreds of thousands of healthcare professionals, millions of patients and tens of millions of Americans at risk. For more information, visit www.kidney.org