| Dialysis | Kidney disease | Patient stories | Transplant

Emmy® Award-Winning Journalist Eliecer Marte Takes on Kidney Disease

January 18, 2024, 11:46am EST

Eliecer Marte, his husband Erick Martinez, their child, and Sydney the Kidney

Immigrants in NYC living in unsafe, illegal basements; the impact of COVID-19; the achievements and struggles of the LGBTQIA+ community—Emmy®, Telly, and GLAAD-winning journalist Eliecer Marte is no stranger to uncovering hard-hitting stories that educate the public about important topics.

Now Marte is using his platform to shed light on kidney disease. 

A personal connection

Marte has a family history of hypertension (high blood pressure), a leading cause of kidney disease. His mother has been battling it for years, and his grandfather developed kidney failure due to it. Marte himself was prehypertensive before taking medicine to manage his blood pressure. 

"In 2012, I learned my grandfather had kidney failure. I saw first-hand what kidney failure and dialysis can do to a person. I watched him deteriorate over two years. His apartment didn’t have an elevator. I vividly remember him struggling up and down the stairs to and from dialysis," said Marte. "He passed away in 2014."

Because of that experience, Marte is diligent with his health. 

"I've seen the consequences of high blood pressure so when my doctor told me I was borderline hypertensive, I took him seriously. I've always been active but now I'm more aware about how much sodium I have. I eat more greens and go on runs." Marte joked, "I’m lucky to have a husband who reminds me every day to take my medication so I never miss a dose."

Learn more about the effects of high blood pressure

Having the tough conversations

As a journalist, Marte understands how to navigate difficult discussions. So, it's no surprise that he is vocal about his health with friends, family, and coworkers. 

"People don't always understand the impact high blood pressure and kidney disease can have on them or their loved ones. Having these conversations raises awareness," said Marte. "Sharing our experiences is more effective than hearing the statistics. People resonate with stories. They start a broader conversation about health and inspire people to take action whether that be getting tested or changing your lifestyle." 

Marte's kidney disease discussions aren't limited to his personal life–he's also covered this important topic from behind the camera. 

"I'm not an influencer, but I am connected to the Hispanic/Latino community. I reported with Univision and Telemundo for more than a decade. Now I’m with News 12, reaching a broader market. My audience knows and trusts me." Marte said, "I've done stories about people needing a kidney. I've talked to people in the middle of dialysis. I've not only lived with kidney disease on a personal level, I report on it. I know how it impacts the community. I've seen people die while waiting for a kidney because their body couldn't handle dialysis anymore. If I can make a difference in even one person's life, it'll be worth it."

By sharing his story with NKF, Marte hopes to inspire people, especially those in the Hispanic/Latino community, to take their kidney health into their own hands. 

"I became aware of how important it is to look at your lifestyle and everything you consume. For example, we have very delicious food in the Hispanic/Latino community, but much of it is high in sodium. It’s about finding balance. We can still enjoy these foods whether in moderation or adjusting the recipe,” said Marte. “For me, it’s all about listening to the professionals. If you already have high blood pressure, follow your doctor's recommendations and take medication as prescribed."

Do you know your kidney disease risk factors? Take this one-minute quiz to find out. It may just save your life!

Raising awareness at Kidney Walk

Marte and his husband, Erick Martínez, are fostering to adopt two young children and have a third on the way. As their family grows, kidney disease remains top of mind. 

"My kids are four and eight. At this age, we are focused on teaching them healthy habits and explaining why food choices matter," Marte said. "By having these discussions early, we can set them up for a healthy life." 

Need help talking to your children about kidney health? Your Kidneys and Youth explains how the kidneys work, what happens if they get sick, and how to keep them healthy. You’ll find fun bonus activities like coloring pages and step-by-step experiments. 

The couple also brought their family to the 2023 New York Kidney Walk as a fun way to introduce them to the kidney disease community and help raise awareness. They walked away with amazing new memories and a new family tradition. 

“We joined Kidney Walk to help educate people about kidney disease and honor my grandfather. It was an amazing experience. Our favorite part was walking together as a family and seeing how much our little one loved Sidney the Kidney. We plan on doing it again next year,” said Marte. “Anyone interested in making a difference in the kidney community should create a Kidney Walk team. We must continue spreading awareness in our communities about kidney disease.”

Make memories. Support NKF’s mission. Join a Kidney Walk near you.

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