More than 95,000 people in the United States are awaiting a kidney transplant, and a new documentary, “The Gift of Hope” shines a light on their reality, chronicling the journey of people who have lived with kidney disease.
Made possible by Fresenius Medical Care North America, NBC Boston’s “The Gift of Hope” shows what life is like for those awaiting an organ transplant. The documentary follows a kidney transplant recipient who received the gift of life when an altruistic donor, a person wishing to donate a kidney but who has no intended recipients, was a match.
“Every day, our team of nearly 70,000 employees cares for thousands of people living with kidney disease. And if there’s one thing we know from our decades of experience, it’s that receiving the gift of life through a transplant is the best option”, said Bill Valle, CEO of Fresenius Medical Care North America. “Thousands of people continue to wait, hoping for the chance to receive the gift of life through a transplant.”
There are 229,000 Americans living with a kidney transplant, according to the 2020 United States Renal Data System (USRDS) Annual Data Report, yet there are more than 95,000 awaiting one. While in 2020, there were nearly 21,000 kidney transplants performed, the need for kidney donors continues to rise.
“The ability to have enough organs is probably one-tenth to one-fifth of what it should be,” said Dr. Frank W. Maddux, MD, Chief Medical Officer for Fresenius Medical Care. “There are somewhere between 10 and 12 times more people actively waiting for a kidney transplant than there are available donors. Transplantations, whether kidneys, lungs, heart, livers, or other things, are truly life-saving procedures.”
The documentary follows the life of Roshanda Turner, a home dialysis patient who has been on a kidney transplant list for seven years. With two daughters, Roshanda discusses the emotional experience of awaiting a kidney transplant.
“The wait for a donor can be anywhere from 5 years to 10 years,” said Turner. “You could save a family, not just one life, but a whole family. It is not just me; I have my kids, my boyfriend, I have a whole life.”
The documentary also shows what life is like for those who have successfully received a kidney transplant. John McCarty, a former home dialysis patient who was the recipient of a kidney from an altruistic donor, recounts his journey from dialysis to transplant. His kidney donor also joins the documentary, and the two discuss how a true friendship has formed since the successful transplant.
In 2018, Fresenius Medical Care North America established the Fresenius Medical Care Foundation to help the patients, families, and communities most greatly impacted by kidney disease. The Foundation’s focus is on raising awareness of kidney disease and transplant as a life-saving solution. Through the Foundation’s financial support of innovative organizations and programs, its work aims to change the trajectory of kidney disease.
While a kidney transplant generally will last an average of 12 to 15 years, a transplant from a living donor lasts an average of 15 to 20 years. For those interested in learning about becoming a kidney donor, there are resources available at United Network for Organ Sharing, Donate Life America, and The National Kidney Foundation.
“The Gift of Hope” aired on Friday, January 22, 2021 in the Boston area and is available for viewing here.