LAYTON -- Chris Yamamoto has been waiting for a new kidney for more than a year.
He hopes the call for one will come through any day.
The 43-year-old Clinton father of five has been battling diabetes since he was 20. Despite doing everything right -- taking his medication, watching his diet, exercising and seeing his doctor on a regular basis, Yamamoto has suffered some severe complications, including a partially amputated foot, blindness and lapsing into a coma.
Now the diabetes has damaged both of his kidneys, forcing him to receive regular kidney dialysis treatments. He's hoping a match will come through so he can continue to live a somewhat normal life.
"It's been a wild ride," he said. "Diabetes isn't just any old disease. It's potentially a very dangerous illness. The possibility of losing your sight, a limb, suffering nerve and kidney damage, even death is very real."
Yamamoto has been receiving dialysis treatments at Liberty Dialysis in Layton, where a machine filters his blood because his kidneys are no longer functioning the way they should. Until he receives a new kidney, he will have to continue with the treatments.
"It's not a lot of fun to have to go through but it's keeping me alive and I'm grateful to get the treatments," he said. "My brother also has diabetes and is on dialysis, so unfortunately he can't donate to me. I'm hoping a match will come through any day. I've been told that once you've been put on the waiting list it takes between 12 and 18 months for a donor to come through. It's getting close now and they've told me to keep my cellphone charged."
There are 436 people in Utah currently waiting for a kidney. Another 20 people are waiting for a kidney/pancreas transplant, said Dixie Madsen, public education coordinator for Intermountain Donor Services. In the United States, 92,749 people are waiting for a kidney and 2,160 are waiting for a kidney/pancreas transplant.
"A person considering living donation must go through a series of tests to determine overall health and suitability for living donation," Madsen said. "Any healthy individual between the ages of 18 and 65 could potentially be a living donor. The screening process includes a medical history, physical exam and blood and urine tests."
Chuck Brown is also a kidney dialysis patient who will be placed on the kidney transplant list soon.
The 26-year-old Bountiful father was diagnosed with Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis, a condition which causes scarring in the filters of the kidneys called glomeruli. The cause is still unknown. However, many patients with the disease will develop kidney failure like Brown. A kidney transplant is the only option for a cure.
"In 2007 I started gaining a lot of weight," Brown said. "I was really swelling up and I was weak and nauseated. I never even thought it could be my kidneys until I finally went to the doctor and was diagnosed in 2009."
Brown said since his diagnosis he has been getting dialysis treatments three to four times a week.
"It's tough, I'll tell you that," he said, of raising a family and working full time while being sick. "I never feel good and after dialysis I feel weak and dizzy and nauseous. I'm hoping for someone to come forward to donate a kidney. I would be so grateful. As soon as I get a dental exam I'll be placed on the list."
Madsen said she hopes more people will consider registering as an organ donor if they have not done so already. She also hopes more people will consider living kidney donation.
"Each of these patients have a very different reason for kidney failure. This could happen to any of us at any time. Being on dialysis is a very restrictive life style. With the hot summer days, it is so hard to imagine living with the fluid intake restrictions that dialysis patients must follow," she said. "Something as simple as going out of town for a few days would require the patient to find a dialysis center in the area they are visiting. Dialysis is a great thing because it keeps these patients alive, but it can be very difficult as well."
To register as a donor, go to www.yesutah.org or call 801-521-1755.