My name is Gene and was my dad’s name, too. My father is very much on my mind as I stand next in line to face the same disease that took him away. Polycystic kidney disease, or PKD, results in kidneys with cysts. These cysts fill with water thereby slowly decreasing the kidney’s function. My challenge is finding a living donor before I have to do the same dialysis my father did before he passed away. Dialysis kept his body working but it didn’t keep him alive.
When I was little, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno were my idols. I wanted to be strong like them, I dreamed about being the strongest man in the world. And I got closer and closer. I opened gyms, and training centers. But it was tough on my body. Powerlifting, as a sport, can cause injuries because it pushes the body beyond its limit. So when I developed lower back injuries and a hernia, I had to change my goal.
I decided that I wanted to be the biggest in the world. And, again, I got close. I began my journey into national level bodybuilding. I happened to be one of the largest body builders in Florida. I won awards and the nickname “Mean Gene” by one of my clients, an oxymoron as I considered myself to be the nicest guy around – unless I was your personal trainer!
But then my kidneys began to grow and I had to change my goal to focus on building solar energy businesses instead of my body.
These days, I hold a title I never wanted – as doctors say I may have the world’s largest kidneys.
This is what inspired Big Dumb Kidneys, my website and effort created by family and friends, to help me find a kidney donor and to raise awareness about how PKD makes your kidneys BIG (through growths of cysts) and DUMB (decreased their function).
We created videos to represent day-to-day issues that I am dealing with which might seem to most like not a big deal, but these affect my lifestyle and have a profound impact on everything that I do.
I want to use my kidneys to help others with my same fate. My kidneys are so big, they might as well be a billboard, and they definitely need a job: raising awareness of PKD and the need for living kidney donors.
If you are interested in learning more about my story or how you can become a living donor, please visit my website BigDumbKidneys.com.
Check out my satire we created on MyBigDumbKidneys.