KNOXVILLE (WATE) – More than 100 people, each and every month, rely on help from the East Tennessee Kidney Foundation. Their services help make living with kidney disease more bearable, both emotionally and financially.
6 News visited with one man who is so thankful for the transportation assistance he receives for his three trips to the clinic each week.
James Fitzgerald, 66, spends a lot of his time in his garden in the spring and summer. He started the garden several years ago, but once the vegetables come in, he won’t be eating most of them.
“I stay very active. You noticed the garden across the street. I grow it and hand out to people in development,” said Fitzgerald.
He can’t eat many of these vegetables because of his strict diet as someone living with kidney disease. To survive, he gets dialysis three times a week.
“That first couple of months was very depressing. Scared to death. First time there it just scared me to death,” he said.
Dialysis is essentially a filtration process for your blood. Dialyzers clean the blood and then pump it back into a patient’s body.
“The main purpose is to clean your blood and that is about a three to four hour process,” said Fitzgerald.
Doctors have told him he is a candidate for a transplant, but he has very personal reasons for not pursuing that route right now.
“My son has said, ‘Dad, I’ll give you a kidney.’ My daughter the same thing, but since there seems to be a history in my family, I don’t want them to go through the same things I am going through.”
For now, he will continue to go to a clinic three times a week, arriving before the sun comes up. It’s expensive and time consuming, but the East Tennessee Kidney Foundation helps defray the cost through its transportation program.