World Kidney Day 2011 with Shad Ireland

by Sharona Johnson, NP

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As many of you visiting this website are aware that today is World Kidney Day. I am excited to say that in addition to providing care for many of the people affected with kidney disease in Eastern North Carolina, I have the privilege of sitting at the table with someone who has influenced my clinical practice. I remember him each time I encounter patients struggling to find some type of rationale for their new diagnosis involving kidney disease or locked in the mindset that that life is without purpose after a diagnosis of ESRD. Let me share a story that may help you get out of bed those mornings when you feel like it’s not worth it or the chronic disease state has posed limitations that seem insurmountable.


Shad Ireland was 11 when he went started dialysis. He had two kidney transplant operations, the first at age 18 that failed after 3 years then another which was also unsuccessful. Following the diagnosis of ESRD and no further transplant options, he decided that his path had been chosen for him, his life had no meaning, and that he had no control over either. This at the age of 25. He thought about suicide and lived recklessly with no regards to having a productive or victorious life. This seemed like the life Shad was destined to live, if it had not been for certain as-yet-to-be-experienced events that were in his future.


Watching television in 1993, Shad was captivated by a triathlon. This one event started a change in his mindset. He began to stretch beyond his limitations, I am going to compete in that race someday! Compete he did. Almost 11 years later, with physical and mental training, as well as a drastic change in his mindset and view on life, In he completed the Ironman Triathlon in Lake Placid, New York. Shad was the first dialysis patient to ever accomplish this feat (Note– and still is as of this writing). Now, he continues to push beyond his limitations to help others with kidney disease see beyond their diagnosis or illness.


It will inspire you to be the change you want to see in the world — Mahatma Gandhi

An individual inspired can accomplish anything, and have the ability to inspire others by doing what inspires us. I wish everyone, NO LIMITATIONS, ONLY INSPIRATIONS! — Shad Ireland


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