In the first of a three-part series, we follow the journey of Kerry Kozlowski as she endures kidney failure, dialysis and the search for a kidney donor. This is her story.
Shortly after seeing her doctor for an annual physical, Kerry Kozlowski was hospitalized for hypertension — extremely high blood pressure. Kozlowski learned she had kidney failure.
“That’s when my life changed. For the past year-and-a-half, I’ve been working really hard to change my diet, get educated and understand my disease, and really try hard to get a kidney,” says Kozlowski, who is married to Christopher Kozlowski, MD, MHA, vice president and medical director of Renown Institute for Heart & Vascular Health.
Doctors recommended a kidney transplant. But when she began her journey to find a match, Kozlowski found she was only compatible with 5 percent of the population.
When her health began to decline, she went on hemodialysis, a blood-filtering procedure that takes place at a dialysis center several times a week.
“I was scared going on dialysis. I’d read a lot on the internet about how your quality of life was going to be hard — how hemodialysis really wiped you out. I was just really concerned because I felt that I couldn’t take care of my two children,” says Kozlowski, who is the mother of two young boys, Luke, 12, and Alex, 8.
Kozlowski then learned about peritoneal dialysis, a procedure that fills your abdomen with a cleansing liquid. Waste products and extra fluid passes through your blood into the cleansing liquid. Patients can be trained to do the procedure at home while they sleep.
In part two of this series, we’ll share how Kozlowski embraced the opportunity to do peritoneal dialysis at home as she continued her search for a new kidney.