National Kidney Foundation (NKF) celebrates Father’s Day by sharing stories of love, sacrifice and the best gift a child could ever give their parent – the gift of life! Currently, there are nearly 100,000 American’s waiting for a kidney transplant. The average wait time for a kidney transplant can be upwards of three to seven years and could vary depending on the health, compatibility as well as availability of organs.
The wait was over before it began for Attorney Jeffrey M. Kolansky who had already struggled with heart disease culminating in double by-pass surgery for him in the 1990’s. Heart disease is a risk factor for kidney disease, which affects an estimated 37 million adults in the U.S., but 90% don’t even know they have it. In 2013 he learned his kidneys had been significantly damaged by a recently contracted food borne bacterial infection and later learned he needed a kidney transplant. The Kolansky children both immediately wanted to donate a kidney giving him only two weeks on dialysis prior to his daughter becoming a living donor. In 2020, there were 589 adult children who became living donors in an effort to save their parents’ life.
“My brother and I both wanted to donate a kidney to dad,” said Jessica A. Kolansky, consumer attorney for Willig, Williams & Davidson and a living donor for her dad. “We had the biggest fight of our lives when we learned we were both a match. Ultimately, I won because none of us wanted my brother recovering from surgery right before his wedding. We just celebrated our 7th Year Kidney Anniversary on June 3rd, and I’m just so thankful I could help him. It’s such a blessing to see him healthy, happy, and so quickly get back to enjoying life with our family and practicing law full-time.”
Approximately 785,000 Americans have irreversible kidney failure and need dialysis or a kidney transplant to survive. About 555,000 of these patients receive dialysis to replace kidney function, 230,000 live with a transplant. Living donations were responsible for a total of 5,726 transplants in 2020. Living organ donation not only saves lives, but it saves money too. Each year, Medicare spends approximately $89,000 per dialysis patient and less than half, $35,000, for a transplant.
“Jessica’s generous gift to her dad illustrates how some family members may be a great donor match for their loved ones,” said Kevin Longino, CEO of the National Kidney Foundation and a kidney transplant recipient. “Only 1 in 5 people on the waitlist will receive a kidney transplant this year, so finding a family member, friend, acquaintance or even a perfect stranger willing to be a living donor is essential to a patient’s long-term survival because a transplant, not years spent on dialysis, is the best treatment option.”
People of certain racial and ethnic groups are more likely to develop kidney disease than others. Blacks or African Americans are 13 percent of the U.S. population, but represent 35 percent of those with kidney failure. Hispanics or Latinos are 1.3 times as likely as non-Hispanics/Latinos to develop kidney failure. A leading cause of kidney disease is diabetes which is more prevalent in these communities. Everyone needs to know about kidney disease, but especially if you have any one of these additional risk factors: high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and family history of kidney disease.
For more information on kidney disease, visit kidney.org and to learn more about becoming a living donor, visit kidney.org/livingdonation. Join the conversation on social media by using the hashtags #fathersday and #BigAskBigGive.