NEPA Man Seeks Kidney Donor

f Christopher Polk had his choice, he’d be building a career and enjoying an active life with his family and friends. Instead, this 24-year-old Eagle Scout from Dickson City is constrained by end-stage kidney failure, which requires four-hour hemodialysis treatment, three times a week.

Though very thin and weakened by his condition and the rigors of treatment, Polk’s attitude is spirited. “His diagnosis has been extremely difficult physically, financially and emotionally for everyone in the family,” says his mother, Joanne Polk. However, his ability to stay positive has really helped pull everyone through this difficult time.” His loved ones hope Polk’s two-year wait for a live kidney donor is around the corner.

Polk graduated in 2007 from Mid-Valley High School and studied horticulture and landscape design at Luzerne County Community College. Physically, he now isn’t able to work in horticulture, and he is looking forward to pursuing a degree in education after his transplant. He works part time as a home theater specialist for HHGregg and volunteers as an assistant Boy Scout Troop Leader.

He had difficulty concentrating and keeping up in his physically demanding classes, which he found disheartening. His physicians believe much of those difficulties were early symptoms of fatigue.

His mother remembers that a few months prior to diagnosis, “Chris developed what seemed to be a resistant cold and fatigue, congestion and an unusual loss of appetite.” Polk frequently suffered from fatigue, says his mother, but he thought it was due to the life of a busy college student. When he became ill after eating a small meal, he sought medical attention.

Doctors were unable to diagnose a reason for his kidney failure. “After a multitude of tests, 49 vials of blood and a kidney biopsy, the only thing the doctors could determine was the presence of scar tissue on my kidneys,” he explains. Polk receives dialysis at Davita Dialysis Center at Allied Services, Scranton. He has high blood pressure, eats a special diet and takes five to six different medications daily. Polk can continue dialysis until a living donor or matching cadaver kidney can be found. However, there are life-threatening risks associated with being on dialysis for an extended period of time.

With more than 100,000 patients on the waiting list for a cadaver kidney, it takes an average of three to seven years for a transplant. Polk hopes for a live donor kidney, which can be transplanted immediately after the donor receives a clean bill of health. Anyone considering donating a kidney should be 18 or older and in good health, with blood type B or O. Potential donors, for Polk or any patient, can call 1-800-645-1228. Visit www.ChrissKidneyConnection.org

–Christine Fanning