Dialysis Ironman competitor visits with Children’s Hospital patients and speaks about kidney disease
Shad Ireland, a dialysis patient for 23 years, speaks to Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital patients about kidney disease and still reaching for dreams at a special program on June 22.
For three days, patients with kidney disease and undergoing dialysis had the opportunity to see what a man made from iron looks like. Or at least one with an iron will.
From June 21 to June 23, Shad Ireland, the first dialysis patient to ever compete in and complete an Ironman triathlon, spent time sharing his story with patients at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital. He has had two kidney transplants and, due to complications, is still on dialysis and has been since he was 10 years old. Now he uses a home dialysis machine four days a week, which allows him to travel and speak to other dialysis patients, as well as be a professional athlete. With the help of sponsors such as Astellas, Genzyme, and Roche, Mr. Ireland has been able to set up the Shad Ireland Foundation, which offers educational and fitness grants to dialysis patients. He gave two educational grants and 11 fitness grants to patients at the Children’s Hospital during his three-day stay.
Children with kidney disease need the efforts of the community to educate them about kidney disease, to enlist support in providing incentives for the children, and to provide opportunities for service, tutoring, mentoring, and help with transportation. Lori Tilman, MSW, pediatric nephrology social worker, invited Mr. Ireland, who participated in the Ironman triathlon in Lake Placid, New York, in 2004, to talk
to Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital pediatric nephrology patients about accomplishing their dreams. He accepted and did so at their bedsides and at a special event the evening of June 22 in Wong Kerlee International Conference Center.
Kidney disease in children is far more prevalent than the community realizes and has a detrimental effect on the normalcy of their lives. The disease often develops into kidney failure.
Individuals with kidney failure will die without treatment—either a kidney transplant and/or dialysis. The average transplant lasts five to 10 years, which means that children will require multiple transplants within a lifetime.
The average cost of a transplant is $100,000 dollars, and in 2003 there were more than 56,000 individuals waiting for a transplant. If a child does not have a potential donor, he or she must be placed on the transplant waiting list and wait approximately two years to receive a kidney.
Children on dialysis or those who have received a kidney transplant take an average of 10 medications, including but not limited to immunosuppressive, growth hormones, calcium supplements, and phosphorous and potassium medications.
Unlike adults who often develop kidney failure as a result of uncontrolled diabetes and high blood pressure, children uncontrollably develop this disease due to various genetic disorders. There are multiple causes of kidney disease among children, which include lupus, polycystic kidney disease, childhood nephrotic syndrome, and focal segmental glomerulonephritis.
At the evening program, Mr. Ireland shared his story in depth.
“Realize your goals and dreams, ask questions, seek answers, and strive to achieve,” said Mr. Ireland. “Your world will transform right before your eyes. And remember this motto: no limitations, only inspirations.”
By Preston Clarke Smith