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A Second Chance at Life: How Dialysis Turned Kenyatta Odneal’s Life Around

Chicago resident, Kenyatta Odneal, was 22 years old when a gunshot wound left him with just one functioning kidney. After being told that he could continue to live his life with one functioning kidney, he carried on with a lifestyle that included substance misuse for more than 20 years. This continued even when Kenyatta’s remaining kidney failed in June 2019, and he needed dialysis to stay alive.

“To put it simply, dialysis intervened with my drug addiction,” Kenyatta recalls. “I didn’t take my treatment seriously. I would often take myself off the machine before I was supposed to. I was the worst patient in the clinic.”

A few months later, everything changed.

A Life-Changing Experience

In the fall of 2019, Kenyatta decided that engaging in behavior harmful to his health was more important than his dialysis treatments, and he stopped treatments for two weeks. His vitals reached life-threatening levels and he was rushed to the emergency room. He fought for his life and won.

Kenyatta was saved, in his words, by a power greater than himself and was given a second chance at life. He made the choice to completely surrender to a new lifestyle.

“I knew that if I wanted to get better, I had to accept that dialysis was a reality for me and let go of my old lifestyle completely,” Kenyatta explains. “I learned as much as I could about dialysis, followed the guidance of my care team, and tried to keep an open mind.”

Over the course of a year, Kenyatta turned his life and health around, making the decision to invest in himself and take responsibility for his treatment. His nurses at Fresenius Kidney Care Neomedica Munster supported him throughout the start of his dialysis journey, planting the seed that he could thrive on dialysis. He was determined to show them that their continued support and encouragement was not in vain, and he quickly became a model patient.

“I owe so much to my care team, they never gave up on me,” he recalls. “They believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself, and that support meant everything.”

Clean Break, Fresh Start

Due to his noticeable improvement and newfound dedication to his treatment, Kenyatta now had the opportunity to consider home hemodialysis. With the encouragement from his care team and after learning more about its benefits, including the flexibility to decide when to dialyze and the opportunity to spend more time with his loved ones, he made the decision to do his treatments from the comfort of his own home.

He spent his time in-center observing what was happening around him and asking questions, which made him a quick study. He even self-cannulated, meaning he inserted his own needles during his first training session, something he’s very proud of.

I am in charge of my treatment now,” Kenyatta said. “Home dialysis has changed the way I look at dialysis. I have the power—I get to choose when I do my treatments and I feel so much better.”

It has also given him more time with his family.

“Home dialysis has been a blessing and allows me to be more present for my wife and daughter. It’s given us more time together,” Kenyatta says. “I take my daughter to school in the morning now, something I wasn’t able to do when I was in-center. I get to spend more time with my daughter and take a task off my wife’s to-do list. It’s a win-win.”

Blazing A New Trail

Today, Kenyatta is enjoying the life he has created for himself, now a home dialysis patient through Fresenius Kidney Care Neomedic South Holland . He’s found a group of likeminded friends—some old, some new—that support his desire to live a happier, healthier life. He’s passionate about sharing his story with anyone in need of inspiration and the courage to overcome an obstacle in their life, even if that obstacle is themself.

“I’m overwhelmed by how much I’ve grown over the last two years,” Kenyatta shares. “Whether you are struggling with addiction or another obstacle, honesty, willingness, and an open mind are the key to success. If I can do it, you can do it too.”

With a new life ahead of him, Kenyatta now searches for a new kidney. He’s on a transplant list in Chicago and is working to get on more transplant lists across the Midwest. In the meantime, he shares his inspiring story with other recovering addicts, both on and off dialysis, and spreads positivity to those who are ready to receive it.

“I feel like a million bucks, like I’ve been given a whole new life,” he says. “I owe so much to everyone that believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself, and I want to be that person for someone else going through a similar situation. If my journey helps even one person, I’ll be grateful.”

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