By Joe Mein
Although it may seem like kidney disease only affects older people, Joe Mein and his family know that's not the case.
In May 2008, at the age of 17, Joe was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease. Unfortunately, Joe had little function in either kidney. He was told that he would need a kidney transplant soon or would require dialysis. Neither Joe, nor his doctors, wanted him to have to start dialysis, so looking for a kidney transplant was a top priority. Joe’s older sister Anna selflessly volunteered to donate one of her kidneys. Unfortunately, testing revealed Anna was not a match for Joe. Joe was placed on the organ transplant list to wait for a kidney to become available.
In October of 2008, Joe and his family took part in their first Twin Cities Kidney Walk through the National Kidney Foundation and learned more about kidney disease and how other families coped with similar situations. They really enjoyed the experience of the walk and knowing that they were not going through this alone. Amazingly, just a week after the walk (and only a couple months after being on the wait list), Joe received a kidney transplant at the University of Minnesota from a deceased donor. Recovery went by quickly and, thankfully, Joe hasn't had any complications with the transplant. He went on to study Biomedical engineering at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and is an engineer for dialysis machines.
After Joe got his kidney transplant, the Mein family wanted to give back to medical community and spread awareness of kidney disease. They started attending events and volunteering the National Kidney Foundation when they could. Anna and Joe both interned at the local office in the Twin Cities and have served on planning committees for the Twin Cities Kidney Walk. The Mein family has helped set up for events and pioneered the Mutt Hut for the Twin Cities Kidney Walk.