CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Heyward Prude III went to the hospital last year because there was concern about his heart. Tests checked out okay, but doctors told him he had stage-four chronic kidney disease.
"Imagine you're traveling some place you want to go. You're on the freeway and the scenery is great. Everything is good," Prude said. "You see something off to the side, and you turn around. Bam, there's a brick wall at 75 miles an hour. I was in denial for a long time, because I couldn't believe I had something that literally could kill me. It was very scary. It was an eye-opener."
The diagnosis last year shook Prude, a former EMT who was now staring at the biggest hurdle of his life.
"In the U.S., 15 percent of people have chronic kidney disease. Many probably don't even know it," said Lynda Newman, a nurse practitioner at Cleveland Clinic's Hillcrest Hospital.
Newman is part of the team of medical professionals that's been working with Prude since his diagnosis.
"They have been life-saving in terms of the encouragement," Prude said. "It's more than medicine."
Are you at risk for kidney disease? The National Institutes of Health says ask yourself these questions:
- Do you have diabetes?
- Do you have high blood pressure?
- Do you have heart disease?
- Did your parents or siblings have kidney disease?
Right now, Prude doesn't require dialysis. He's been able to manage symptoms with a strict diet, exercise and guidance from his medical team.
Still, doctors say a transplant is critical to Prude's survival.
The father of five is also a minister and community activist. A lot of his free time is devoted to working with youth.
Since his diagnosis, Prude has launched the K-I-C-K Foundation.
"The acronym is, Keep Inspiring Clean Kidneys," Prude said.
"A lot of people are walking around today with chronic kidney disease and don't even know it," Prude said. "What we want to try and do is bring the awareness, give people the tools (and) give people the knowledge to deal with this epidemic."
Kidney diseases are the ninth leading cause of death according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Prude is hopeful that he'll undergo a kidney transplant in the next few months.
"I had eight people step up and offer to donate a kidney to me," Prude said. "One of which is a match, a non-relative. In the transplant world that's kind of unheard of."
The transplant still must be finalized.
Prude said he wants the K-I-C-K Foundation to inspire others to become donors.
"Living donors- because a lot of people are put on these lists and have to wait years and years and years."
On Friday, August 17, the K-I-C-K Foundation in partnership with the Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition and the Cuyahoga County Section-National Council of Negro Women will be holding the Kidney Awareness Gala.
The event will feature a raffle, food, games, and entertainment.
The gala in honoring Prude and will be raising money to cover medical costs. The National Foundation for Transplants said kidney transplants cost more than $335,000. They said even with insurance people like Prude face significant expenses related to the surgery and post-care.
A portion of the proceeds will also go to the National Foundation for Transplants, the Minority Organ & Tissue Transplant Education Program and the Ohio chapter of the National Kidney Foundation.
Tickets are available online.