March marks National Kidney Month, which promotes awareness of kidneys and kidney disease. For some it may just be another month, but for Ray Harris, this is the fourth March he has been waiting for a kidney transplant.
Harris suffers from focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, a type of inherited kidney disease. He was diagnosed 20 years ago during a routine visit with his primary physician. From the physical side effects of medication to the mental impact of having kidney disease, Harris became anti-social in the early stages of his diagnosis.
“I couldn’t participate in all the activities I used to,” he said. “I had less energy, physical pain, and depression. Every day was a challenge.”
After undergoing two kidney transplants since his diagnosis, he has realized that his experience could be an inspiration to others. He now advocates for kidney disease awareness and supports those who are personally impacted. He created the mantra, P.U.S.H: Perseverance, Understanding, Support, and Help. He uses it to motivate himself and others to talk about kidney disease.
“If we get more people talking about it, then less people will be negatively impacted,” he said.
While he spreads awareness about the disease that plagues him, Ray Harris continues to need dialysis while he waits for a third kidney transplant.
“Being on and off dialysis has been a rollercoaster. It’s difficult, but I learned to look at the positive things,” he said.
He continues to have hope in finding a donor, living or deceased. Harris is one of 2,706 people currently waiting for a kidney transplant in the state of Maryland.
“The importance of being an organ, eye, and tissue donor is a blessing. In Galatians 6:10, it says ‘Therefore as we have opportunity, let us do good to all. Especially to those who are of the household of faith.’ It’s the ultimate gift,” Ray said.
Want to save the lives of people like Ray? Learn more and register to be an organ, eye, and tissue donor at www.donatelifemaryland.org.