My name is Matt Kishbaugh. I will be 35 on January 28, 2018. I live in Pennsylvania. My family and I know what it’s like to deal with kidney disease. I was 13 when I was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease.
Polycystic kidney disease is where a cluster of cysts form inside your kidney. The disease changed my life. I wasn’t able to play any physical sports or do heavy lifting because it can cause a cyst to bust – which would result in severe pain. It also affected my physical appearance. My stomach was big – it made me look like I had a beer belly or pregnant. Both of my kidneys were the size of footballs and weighed about 20-25 pounds each.
I had plenty of doctor’s appointments and numerous surgeries. Polycystic kidney disease causes high blood pressure, so I had to take medication for it. I wasn’t allowed to eat salty foods. Polycystic kidney disease is hereditary and runs in my dad’s side of the family. It can be depressing and very stressful.
You often wonder, why me? What did I do to deserve this? And the answer is nothing – you did nothing – you were given this life because you are strong enough and brave enough to live this life. I’ve been knocked down, but I got back up. I was very sick and in a lot of pain. I have been in and out of the hospital numerous times. I missed my daughter’s dance performances and my son’s baseball games.
I had my right kidney removed in 2015 and had my left kidney removed in 2016. After I recovered, I started to feel a lot better and stronger. I fought, and I believed I could get through it.
I was on the transplant list for 8 and a half years and on dialysis for eight years before I received my kidney transplant on December 25, 2017, at Penn State Hershey Medical Center. Other than this disease, I am healthy. My family and friends have been there to support me. They helped me get through the hard times. Just being around family helps. Listening to music also helps me when I start to feel down. There is no cure, only treatment. I take things one day at a time and live them to the fullest. You got to believe. I will not let it defeat me.
I am sharing my story about kidney disease, not for pity or for people to feel sorry for me. I want to share it to let people who are going through the same thing as me know that they are not alone. Be strong; we can get through this. I feel much better that I got it out and told my story. We need more people to speak out and bring awareness to kidney disease and the effects it has on everybody. Together we can conquer kidney disease! I also want to raise awareness for organ donation!