Ron Paul and his wife, Joy, are on a mission: to eradicate kidney disease.
Ron Paul, chair and chief executive officer of Eagle Bancorp and Eagle Bank, was diagnosed with glomerulosclerosis in his late 20s. The disease led to kidney failure and, eventually, the need for two kidney donations. “I didn’t have any pre-existing conditions — no diabetes, no high blood pressure, no issues at all other than I found out I had kidney failure,” he said.
Now, the Paul family is determined to spread awareness and education about a disease that disproportionately affects those in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. There are around 700,000 people, primarily those in the African-American, Hispanic, and Asian communities, with kidney disease in the District. Around 7,000 people are on dialysis, and 1,700 are waiting for a transplant. The demand for kidneys, especially from live donors, far outweighs the supply. Those statistics, however, could change.
On Nov. 5, 2015, the couple launched the GW Ron and Joy Paul Kidney Center, designed to educate the Washington, D.C. community about kidney disease, provide patients with information about treatment options, and promote the paired kidney exchange list.
“Our goal is to make our community aware of the causes that lead to kidney disease and all the screening and preventive measures that are available to us to avoid this potential life-changing experience,” Ron Paul said. “However, should one be faced with end-stage renal disease, there are alternatives to the difficulties associated with dialysis. The job of the GW Ron and Joy Paul Kidney Center is to be sure that patients, families and friends, and physicians have the necessary information to make those tough decisions.”
To that end, the GW Ron and Joy Paul Kidney Center has been hosting free health screenings, first at the community health expo at the Barry Farm Recreation Center, in August 2015. In January 2016, the center, with the GW Transplant Institute, provided screenings at the NBC4 Health and Fitness Expo, and in early March, the center and the National Kidney Foundation co-sponsored a screening event, at Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church in Ward 7.
“If each of you in this room reaches out to two people, and gets them to take a simple blood test, a urine test, a blood pressure test, you would be amazed at how much better they’ll feel and how much better you’ll feel that you potentially helped one of the members of your family,” Ron Paul said at the March screening. “It’s an incredible thing.”