Honoree Meshia Adams is congratulated by her husband, Rodney.

By Iyana ParkerSpecial to the AFRO

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, VA. – “Having kidney disease isn’t a death sentence; it can be managed it’s key to remember that you’re never alone and that a little bit of hope goes a long way,” said Hero of Hope award recipient Meshia Adams, a resident of Prince William County, Va., who has been dealing with chronic kidney disease for over 18 years. She was first diagnosed when she was only 16 years old.

“I remember being confused as to what exactly it all meant when the doctors were trying to explain my condition to me. I had been feeling sluggish with symptoms of strep throat but I didn’t feel really sick,” Adams said.

“So I thought they had it all wrong when they explained to me that I was severely anemic and that my kidneys were not sufficiently producing red blood cells.”

After seeing a kidney specialist and discovering that she had end stage renal disease Adams was put on peritoneal dialysis for four months before receiving her first kidney transplant.

That transplant lasted about 15 years, then in July 2010 her kidney failed again and she was forced to go back on dialysis treatments. During this time, she also had two hip replacements and pneumonia. “I remember it like it was yesterday; I could tell something was wrong because my blood levels were really high and I began to have a lot of restless leg syndrome making it difficult to sleep at night, it was horrible,” she said.

Thankfully, In July 2012, her husband, Rodney, donated one of his kidneys to her.

“I don’t think Rodney deciding to donate his kidney to me was a difficult decision for him to make. We created a Facebook page to raise awareness and there were a lot of people willing to donate, so I think he started thinking ‘what can I do?’ and that’s when he secretly got tested and discovered he was a match. I’m humbled by the gesture; it is a gift I can never reciprocate which makes giving back to the community so important to me,” Adams said.

After receiving her second kidney transplant from her husband, she created her website, Meshia’s Hope, with the goal of educating and empowering patients and those who may be at risk for chronic kidney disease. She frequently visits kidney patients at local dialysis centers, and partnered up with Greenwich Presbyterian Church to make quilts that are donated to patients in dialysis centers. She has also advocated for kidney disease awareness and education on Capitol Hill.

“Having kidney disease changed me; it made me stronger, smarter and very patient, but it also turned my life upside down so its important to have a doctor you’re comfortable with along with a great support system,” Adams said.

She was honored as a “Hero of Hope” by the American Kidney Fund on Oct. 22 for her outstanding dedication to raising awareness for kidney disease in her local community and on Capitol Hill.  “As a member of the American Kidney Fund team we reach out to those impacting and uplifting their community, this year we have received a plethora of nominations for the Hero of Hope award,” said Teene Hawkins, AKF senior director of communications and marketing. “The recipient has to be someone who has gone above and beyond to improve quality of life for others, I believe with out a doubt that Meshia Adams embodies those qualities and much more through the influence of her website in addition to her efforts on Capitol Hill.”