CLEVELAND — A Cleveland man diagnosed with a life-threatening illness six years ago is refusing to accept defeat and advocating for other patients diagnosed with renal failure to do the same.
Brian Mays has been through the wringer since 2014.
“I was told by doctors that my kidneys were failing,” Mays said.
Following a renal failure diagnosis and the amputation of his left foot, Mays decided to take control of his circumstances.
“The sole of my foot, literally I was walking on my tibia. When I walked my foot was hanging,” Mays said. “They said, ‘This thing’s gotta come off.’ I said, ‘Thank you.’”
Mays completed extensive training to administer his own kidney dialysis at home.
“With dialysis, you have to work your life around dialysis,” Mays said. “At home, you can work dialysis around your life.”
Hours of kidney dialysis multiple times a week combined with physical therapy to relearn how to walk were taking over Mays’ life and monopolizing his precious time.
“I was on the machine approximately four hours a day for those three days. Monday, Wednesday, Friday,” Mays said. “I knew I had grandchildren. I have a daughter. They need me in their life.”
Tamika Jackson of Fresenius Kidney Care said while many kidney patients aren’t aware of the at-home option, it is attainable.
“She specialized his treatment based on things that he already knew,” Jackson said. “So she adapted his training for him.”
Jackson said Mays is an advocate for other patients looking to regain their independence.
“He asks questions. He calls the on-call when he has a problem,” Jackson said. “He talks to patients in the lobby.”
Mays is now one of approximately 80 patients at Fresenius Kidney Care turning their struggles into survival.
“I always believed in the underdog and when you become an underdog you have to fight for you too,” Mays said. “I overcame the fears and said, ’Let me try this and see.’ And when I tried it, it was one of the best choices I’ve made for myself and for my family.”