When he was diagnosed with kidney failure five years ago, DeWayne tried to end his life. Living on dialysis seemed unimaginable.

But the 52-year-old California filmmaker has since regained hope. 

DeWayne’s life began to turn around, perhaps ironically, when he first went on dialysis. Meeting and talking to other patients going through the same experience gave him hope. DeWayne vowed not to let kidney disease prevent him from living a full life.

He began taking new dialysis patients under his wing, helping them understand the treatment and deal with its emotional consequences. He remembered how lost he felt when he was first diagnosed and did his utmost to help others in the same position.

DeWayne thrived. He realized how much he loved helping people. It gave him purpose in life when, before, he had none.

When lawmakers proposed a bill that would cut funding for dialysis patient care, he decided to fuse his professional life as a filmmaker with his personal experiences as a kidney patient.

He made a film, The Real Faces of Dialysis, featuring interviews with patients who discussed their battle against kidney disease and the fear of what their lives would be like without dialysis.

The film was screened for several lawmakers, providing them a glimpse into the real lives of the people behind the spreadsheets.

DeWayne credits the American Kidney Fund for playing a big role in helping him get his life back on track over the past five years. He first heard about AKF shortly after his diagnosis. AKF stepped in to help DeWayne with expenses when he was faced with his new massive medical outlays.

Because of AKF’s help, he was able to keep a roof over his head at the bleakest time of his life. “AKF helped when I had nowhere to turn,” DeWayne says. “It made a world of difference.”

Today, DeWayne is an active member of AKF’s Advocacy Network. He is now on a mission to educate people about kidney disease – especially members of Congress.

“Laws make a real difference in people’s lives,” he says. “Sometimes it’s the difference between life and death.”

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

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