Angela L. Davis’ life was completely changed on Jan. 31, 2008, when, after passing out and being taken to the hospital, she found that her kidneys had failed.
Davis, a Springfield Gardens resident, started dialysis the next day and stayed in the hospital for five months due to complications. Her hospital stay, though challenging, allowed her to understand and empathize with people who were forced to change their normal routines to start a grueling process to artificially duplicate the functions of kidneys.
“Dialysis is very, very challenging, challenging on the body physically, challenging emotionally, and it takes determination and fortitude to get up every day and say, ‘We’re going to do this,'” Davis said.
In January 2012, Davis started For Kidney’s Sake, a nonprofit that aims to provide education and recreational activities for chronic kidney patients to relieve the isolation they may feel in response to their disease. Davis held a “Spa Day” for more than 60 dialysis patients in March and set up a mobile spa in a school gymnasium. People were treated to hand scrubs, massages and lunch.
“When you’re a dialysis patient, you lose a lot of your normal routines. If you were a person who likes to go out every weekend and drink beer, you can no longer do that,” Davis said. “A lot of times what goes along with giving up those things is giving up your friends or family that participate in those activities, so people feel isolated and depressed.”
Davis said people who attended “Spa Day” and other events hosted by the nonprofit have thanked her for getting them out of the house. Some patients had not left their house, except to attend dialysis treatment, in two years. Davis also hosted a Zumba party to encourage people to exercise and a trip to Dorney Park in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Her dedication to improving the lives with those with kidney disease earned her a “Hero of Hope” honor from the American Kidney Fund. Davis will attend the American Kidney Fund’s seventh annual gala in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 30 to receive the award.
“A Hero of Hope is a patient who inspires others by giving back to his or her community despite the many physical, emotional and financial challenges of living with kidney failure,” said Tamara Ruggiero, vice president of Public Affairs for the American Kidney Fund. “Angela’s outreach to dialysis patients, helping overcome the isolation felt by so many, is changing lives in her community, and we are honored to present the 2015 American Kidney Fund Hero of Hope Award to her at our national gala, The Hope Affair, next month.”
The American Kidney Fund is the nation’s leader in providing charitable assistance to dialysis patients and 97 cents of every dollar that the nonprofit earns goes directly to patients. The organization also provides grants to one of every five dialysis patients in the country to ease the burden of medical bills, and Davis is a recipient.
“I’m very proud to be honored and I believe that this award hopefully will shed light on not only my organization but the issue of the psychological impact that kidney disease has on patients because like I said before, kidney disease is challenging and you have to have the attitude that ‘I have chronic kidney disease but chronic kidney disease does not have me,'” Davis said.