In the first of a three-part series, we follow the journey of Kerry Kozlowski. This is her story facing kidney failure, dialysis and searching for a kidney donor.
Shortly after seeing her doctor for an annual check-up, Kerry Kozlowski was hospitalized for hypertension — extremely high blood pressure. Surprisingly, she 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 Kerry, 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, Kerry found she was only compatible with 5 percent of the population.
When her health began to get worse, she went on hemodialysis. This is a blood-filtering procedure taking place at a dialysis center several times a week.
Navigating A New Normal
“I was scared going on dialysis,” she shares. “I’d read a lot on the internet about the hard quality of life — how hemodialysis really wiped you out.”
“I was just really concerned because I felt that I couldn’t take care of my two children.” Kerry, is the mother of two young boys, Luke, 12, and Alex, 8.
She 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 liquid. Patients can be trained to do the method at home while they sleep.
In part two of this series, we’ll share how Kerry embraced the opportunity to do peritoneal dialysis at home as she continued her search for a new kidney.