SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KOLR) – More than 37 million Americans suffer from chronic kidney disease, but one Springfield, Missouri man has had it for so long he broke a world record.
Meet Tim Atkins, he suffers from chronic kidney disease and has lived 40-years on dialysis. And through his 40-year battle, he is a burst of positive energy and always has a story to share.
Now back to breaking a world record, he broke the Guinness Book of World Records five-years ago.
He says there have been lots of ups and downs through the years after being diagnosed in his early teens.
“That was like the dark ages for dialysis. You ran six-hours at a time and the machines ran so much slower then,” said Atkins.
Today, he no longer has to drive to a clinic for dialysis but started getting home dialysis.
“I never really wanted to I just kind of wanted to go into the clinic…I just wanted to do it get it out of my life. I really didn’t want to be reminded of it at home sitting in the corner.”
His wife, Lori convinced him to give it a try. Atkins says he quickly started to realize the advantages of it.
He and Lori took their dialysis on the road. Literally, they modified a motor home, took out a closet and put a machine in it. The couple traveled an Apache reservation in Arizona and did mission work four-months.
“So, yeah, I’ve lived a full life. We were the very first couple to do home dialysis in the Virgin Islands we both got job offers there. We were doing home dialysis in states and we decided to take the jobs in the Virgin Islands and I dialyzed in the clinic there for about a year,” says Atkins.
Currently, just 12% of Americans start home dialysis. Recently the Trump Administration signed an executive order to transform kidney care by encouraging more prevention, home dialysis and increase transplants.
“When they are at home they can do it at night when they are asleep. They can do it during the day they can do it after work whatever is more convenient for their lifestyle,” said Lori June.
June is a home therapy program manager with Fresenius Medical Care. She helps patients learn home dialysis.
“Our goal is is to keep our patients healthy as long as possible and to keep them healthy so that when that kidney comes available. They can take it and they can move on with their life.”
As for Atkins, he is not a candidate for a transplant but he is a success story of survival.
“It’s not the end of your life. It’s actually a new chapter and a new life because you actually started a new life. You just have to incorporate this into it. You can live a long time with dialysis I’m proof of that.”
He adds watching his diet, going to doctor’s visits and not skipping treatments is what has contributed to his life story…but most importantly his supportive wife and his strong faith.