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Organ donor and recipient share bond

    Leanne Adams-Kahue, left, donated one of her kidneys to her friend Leland Medeiros, who was suffering from renal disease before the transplant.

Leland Medeiros didn’t have any symptoms of chronic kidney disease until he was 27 and had a sudden bout of vomiting and fatigue for three days that resulted in a trip to the emergency room.

Doctors diagnosed him with end-stage renal failure. He underwent dialysis three days a week for almost seven years waiting for a kidney transplant.

Coincidentally, friend Leanne Adams-Kahue planned to donate one of her kidneys to her nephew’s father, but their blood type wasn’t a match. Adams-Kahue called the transplant coordinator to ask whether she could donate her kidney to Medeiros, who turned out to be a match, and a successful transplant surgery was performed.

She believed if she gave her kidney to Medeiros, then someone would provide a kidney for her nephew’s father.

Medeiros, now in his late 30s, will share his experience at the Sixth Annual World Kidney Day event tomorrow at the Ala Moana CenterStage. As a transplant recipient, he wants to inform the public that a healthful diet and exercise are crucial to lessen or stop the risk of kidney disease.

He recalled how he suffered from depression and a lack of energy while undergoing dialysis. "I felt like I ran into a bus," he said. Reconnecting with his native Hawaiian culture and support from his parents, Rod and Diane Medeiros, and friends helped Medeiros overcome his hopelessness and fight the disease.


A schedule of events for World Kidney Day, sponsored by the National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii.


» 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free screening at Barnes & Noble in Lahaina.
» 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free screening to be held at the old Miko Meats building, 230 Kekuanaoa St., Suite 104, Hilo.
» 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Ala Moana CenterStage. Concert by Moanalua High School band. Glen Hayashida, chief executive officer of the National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii, and transplant recipient Leland Medeiros will speak at the event.


» 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Free screening at Ala Moana Hotel, Garden Lanai banquet room.


» 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free screening at Whole Foods in Maui at the health fair.

NOTE: Free screenings will be available to individuals 18 and older who have high blood pressure or diabetes or have a parent or sibling with high blood pressure, diabetes or kidney disease. Space is limited to 125 people for each screening event. Eight hours of fasting is recommended but not required. To pre-register, call 589-5906 or e-mail early-intervention coordinator Jill Tamashiro at

For more information, go to the National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii website at


He got involved at Hope Chapel Olomana when he bumped into Adams-Kahue, a former neighbor from Kaneohe, where he grew up. "I hadn’t seen him in so many years," she said.

Medeiros and Adams-Kahue underwent transplant surgery on Jan. 30, 2008. Three weeks later, Adams-Kahue learned her nephew’s father got a match for a kidney transplant.

Medeiros and Adams-Kahue continue to stay in contact. "I call him ‘my left kidney,’" she said. Medeiros said he’s grateful to have a second chance thanks to Adams-Kahue. "It’s very selfless to lay down your life for somebody else," he said.

Finding donors is a challenge, and advocates work to lower the number of people on dialysis by emphasizing exercise and a healthful diet. Nearly 400 people are on the waiting list in Hawaii for organs. Of those, 90 percent are people who need a kidney transplant. An estimated 40 to 60 transplants are conducted here every year.

As a living donor, Adams-Kahue said, "It’s a neat experience knowing that somebody else will live with your help. You only need one kidney to survive."

More awareness of kidney disease in Hawaii is vital as the state has one of the highest rates of kidney disease in the U.S., said nephrologist Dr. Jared Sugihara.

The growing number of dialysis centers in Hawaii reflects the problem. High blood pressure and diabetes are leading causes, with more than 50 percent of people on dialysis being diabetic.

The number of people in Hawaii on dialysis is higher than the national average, likely due to a large minority population. Minorities experience higher incidents of kidney disease, especially native Hawaiians.

Individuals who have high blood pressure or diabetes or who are related to someone who suffers from high blood pressure or diabetes are urged to get checked regularly. "Even if you feel OK, you may not be OK," said Sugihara, who served as medical director of the Renal Institute for St. Francis Medical Center-Liliha.

"Kidney disease is a very silent thing," he said, adding that it’s not unusual for people to have no symptoms until they wind up in the emergency room and learn they have end-stage renal failure.


Facts about chronic kidney disease:

>> Nearly 27 million American adults have chronic kidney disease and millions more who are at risk and not aware of it.
>> About 156,000 people in Hawaii are affected the disease and an additional 100,000 are at risk (almost 20 percent of the state’s population)
>> More than 526,00 Americans are receiving treatment for kidney failure. Kidney failure rates in Hawaii are 30 percent higher than the national average. 
>> Over 2,700 people in Hawaii are on dialysis.
>> More than 87,000 Americans die every year from causes related to kidney failure.
>> Approximately 348 patients in Hawaii are awaiting transplants.
>> Over 60 percent of people in Hawaii with chronic kidney disease have diabetes.
>> Diabetes is the No. 1 cause of kidney failure in the U.S.
>> Diabetes coupled with high blood pressure account for nearly 85 percent of new cases of kidney disease in the U.S.
>> Cardiovascular disease is the primary cause of death in dialysis patients.
>> Populations with the highest rate of the disease in Hawaii are native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, Filipinos and Japanese.
Source: National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii

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