AKF Ambassador Spotlight: Dean Walker
What made you want to become an ambassador?
As an ESRD patient I have some personal reasons for getting involved. I would like to see everyone afflicted improve their day to day existence as much as possible.
How has being an ambassador helped you?
I now have a better understanding of available programs and research related to kidney failure
What have you learned from being an ambassador?
There are many resources available both financialy and medically. Knowing where to search eases the process and makes more available.
Why should others become ambassadors?
Kidney disease/ESRD does not get the attention it deserves. Through awareness and public information we could expect better funding and additional research in this very expensive disease.
What is something you've learned about kidney disease and dialysis that you wish you knew a lot sooner?
Peritoneal/Home dialysis. This type of dialysis has freed me from the need to visit a center and be stuck there for 4 hours 3 days per week.
How would you like to stay connected to other advocates?
Via conference calls and email.
What are your best tips to get through the dialysis treatments?
Switch to peritoneal dialysis. It is done while I sleep.
What do you wish elected officials knew about dialysis patients?
I wish my elected representatives were more aware of the cost of dialysis. Since this is usually a Medicare expense additional research into artificial kidneys would turn into a net money saver.
Do you have any advice for newly diagnosed kidney patients?
Seek out people who have already journeyed down this path. Their knowledge will ease your transition into this life.
How does it help having a family member be part of the process?
It's not just a help it is necessary. Without the love and support of my family I don't see how this would be possible.
What do you wish other family members knew about kidney disease or knew about helping others?
What the requirements are for a living organ donation and how important it is to have the organ donor box on their driver's license checked.
What are some interesting facts about yourself that you'd like to share?
I am a retired Branch Manager from Canon Business Solutions (42 years in the industry) and a Vietnam era veteran of the United States Navy. My volunteer duties included 12 years in Boy Scout leadership, 20 years as a committee chairman for my annual church carnival and as a patient advocate for BCAN (Bladder Cancer Action Network). I went to college on a Vietnam era scholarship from the state of Illinois and the GI bill. I consider myself a bit of a nerd and am proud of the moniker.