Shortly after her favorite aunt died from kidney disease, Ariel developed kidney failure. Only 13 years old, this scared and angry young girl from Houston had no idea that, a decade later, she would be an inspiration for countless others with kidney disease.

After her diagnosis, Ariel spent a lot of time alone. She didn’t tell her classmates that she went to dialysis after school. Her mother worked long hours and Ariel’s four older siblings moved out. Unlike many of the other children on dialysis at Texas Children’s Hospital, Ariel had no parent or friend with her during treatment.

Ariel fell into a deep depression. Why was she the only one of her siblings to have kidney disease? Why was she the only one alone on dialysis? Why wasn’t her aunt still alive to help her?

At 17, Ariel received a kidney transplant. No longer tied to a strict dialysis schedule, she started to explore the world on her own terms. She quickly made a lot of friends and got a job as a nurse’s aide in a nursing home, where glowing reviews from patients and families led to a full-time position.

On Facebook, Ariel became a resource for all things kidney-related. When an acquaintance was diagnosed with kidney failure, she turned to Ariel because she didn’t know where else to turn.

But the Houston teen made one mistake that ended up costing her the long-awaited kidney. While packing for an impromptu overnight trip, Ariel forgot her medicine. From that point on, her transplanted kidney began to fail, and eventually, Ariel had to return to dialysis to survive, and had to give up the job she loved.

Ariel saw a flyer at her dialysis clinic for an upcoming Kidney Action Day, AKF's community outreach event that promotes kidney disease awareness and prevention. Ariel reached out to her Facebook network and put the largest team together for AKF’s fundraising walk. Her friends came out in droves to walk, learn about kidney disease, and get screened. Those who couldn’t be there in person made a donation.

Ariel has since become a passionate advocate for the American Kidney Fund. She has visited Washington, D.C., to talk to policy makers about living with kidney disease, and in 2015 she fielded the biggest Houston Kidney Action Day walk team as part of KIDNEYNATION, AKF’s nationwide community of fundraisers. She was named a Kidney Action Hero and told her story on stage.

AKF fights for people like Ariel, but we can’t do it without help from supporters like you. Help AKF fight kidney disease. Donate now!

 

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