Already Gold: 2016 Rio Olympian Living with Kidney Disease


With the 2016 Olympics in full swing in Rio de Janeiro the thoughts of the entire world are turned to athletics, strength, endurance, and the individuals who serve as examples of the finest physical prowess that a human being can attain to. It is exciting to see how high, how far, and how fast our athletes can run, jump, and sprint. But for those who struggle with a chronic disease it can also feel just a little discouraging. We see that physical strength and wonder: will I ever feel that healthy? Here at Kidney Cars we want the patients we serve to know that we do more than just support research. We SEE your strength. We RECOGNIZE your endurance.

Olympic Aspirations After Transplant

In 2012 Aries Merritt, an Olympic hurdler, took home the gold medal in the 110-meter hurdle completion. He didn’t know it at the time, but his biggest "hurdle" was still ahead of him.

In 2013 Merritt was diagnoses with collapsing focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, also known as collapsing FSGS. This rare kidney disease had his kidneys functioning at less than 20%. Because of his status as an Olympic athlete, and his desire to compete in the Rio 2016 games, there were medications he couldn’t use. The diuretics and EPO blood boosters that are commonly prescribed to kidney disease patients were not an option for him. Even with the reduced function he competed in the world track and field competition in Beijing, China last year and won a bronze medal.

Just four days after that competition, on Sept. 1, 2015, Merritt received a kidney transplant from his sister, LaToya Hubbard.

The surgery and recovery kept Aries Merritt out of running for most of the season, but in July he began training again in earnest. He is determined to do his best to defend his gold medal and his record. In his own words he said "I am determined to make a way out of no way."

Watch for him in the games and cheer him on.

The Courage to Keep Going

That is the attitude of a true Olympian. To keep going past impossible odds. To never give up.

It is also the attitude of kidney disease and transplant survivors.

They understand endurance because it takes an incredible amount of endurance to live with kidney disease. They understand pacing themselves because they have learned how to understand limitations inside and out; which ones they can push past and which ones they know they must accept.

No matter what hurdle you’re facing in your disease right now; a needed transplant, dialysis, or increased medication, we want you to know that we believe in you. Your health care teams believe in you. The volunteers and individuals who have donated their time, cars, and resources to search for a cure believe in you. No matter what the challenge is, there are people who are cheering for your success.

We know that your efforts are already worth a gold medal.