Keeping His Fire Burning: Pedro’s Story of Taking Courage and Control
Before he was diagnosed with end stage kidney disease (ESKD) Pedro spent five years working as a patient Care Technician (PCT) at a small dialysis center in Moncks Corner, South Carolina. He didn’t know it at the :me, but the knowledge and experience he gained would soon come in very handy. In 2003, Pedro went from providing dialysis therapy to receiving it.
“Suddenly, I became a patient at the same clinic I worked at,” says Pedro.
Over the next 20 years, kidney failure would rob Pedro of many things – health, time, independence, and, saddest of all, his legs. Low calcium levels and years of obesity took a toll, and Pedro’s bones were too weak to support him. Eventually, after numerous medical complications, both of his legs had to be amputated below the knee.
One thing that hasn’t been taken from Pedro is his fighting spirit. Or, more appropriately, his firefighting spirit. For nearly three decades, Pedro has been a volunteer firefighter, and continues to serve, even on a pair of titanium prosthetics.
“I’m not actually fighting fires these days,” explains Pedro. “But as a safety officer, I’m at the scene making sure my fellow firefighters have all the proper equipment and are staying safe.”
Besides his state-of-the-art limbs, Pedro says he owes much of his mobility – and energy – to more frequent home hemodialysis (HHD), which he has done for more than 15 years. In 2006, unhappy with how tired he felt after in-center treatments, he asked his care team about HHD and decided to give it a try. He noticed a big difference even while he was still in training.
“It was hard for me to regulate my fluids when I was in-center,” Pedro recalls. “At every visit they had to take off so much that it would leave me feeling drained.”
With more frequent HHD and changes in his diet (he started eating less and cut out junk food), Pedro felt so much better that he was able to take a part time job as a phlebotomist at a nearby hospital, a job he still enjoys today. He is also an active member of Saint John Masonic Lodge in St. Stephen, South Carolina, enjoys fishing, and loves spending time with his wife Jakki and their children and grandchildren. Between family time, volunteering, and working, Pedro’s life is packed, and making the most of his time is critical. This is another area where more frequent HHD has made a big difference. He does dialysis five days a week and schedules his treatments around his activities.
“Once I started training on HHD I was dialyzing more frequently, so there was less fluid building up. I felt so much better.”
“With HHD, you can get your lifestyle back,” Pedro explains. “I’m able to get up, plan my day, and do what I want, then come home and do my treatment that evening. Or I can get up early and do a treatment, then hit the street. When my fire department gets called, we jump up and go, and sometimes I could be out there for hours at a time. So, being able to do treatments at a :me that works for me is the best convenience ever.”
Though he has much to be proud of, Pedro believes one of his biggest achievements is one that most people take for granted.
“I’m still able to walk!” he exclaims. “I’ve seen so many with amputations just give up, so the fact that I’m still able to do everything that I do is an accomplishment in and of itself. I thank God for that. It’s everything.”
Given all that he’s overcome, Pedro now shares his experiences with other kidney disease and ESKD patients as a Patient Advocate for NxStage. He encourages people on dialysis to advocate for themselves and be active participants in their therapy. “It’s more than just showing up,” he says. “It’s still your life, and you’re in control and you need to have that voice.”
More than anything, he wants others to experience the benefits of more frequent HHD that helped him regain some of the independence, :me, and energy he lost when his kidneys failed.
“Life is full of ups and downs, and we have to be willing to look into things with an open mind,” says Pedro. “HHD means taking back control and living that quality of life that you’re accustomed to. It’s a game changer.”
Pedro is a NxStage Patient Advocate
Home hemodialysis with NxStage systems involves risks, and you may not experience the potential benefits of such therapy. NxStage systems require a prescription for use. If your doctor prescribes more frequent therapy, your vascular access is exposed to more frequent use which may lead to access related complications, including infection of the site.