Bill Bradford has spent his life helping others
Now, the veteran and former paramedic needs help from others to survive.
“Oh, I eat these like candy,” he said while holding a container of pills. “Breakfast of champions, I call it. I take 13 pills in the morning when I have breakfast.”
Bradford knows that his health is failing but while he’s alive, he’s fighting to bring awareness to the disease that’s taking his life.
“Correct. I’m the founder of End PKD,” he said. “And I’m representing the number one genetic life-threatening disease in the world.”
Bill has polycystic kidney disease (PKD) – a genetic disease that’s affecting more than 12 million people worldwide. It happens when cysts develop in the kidneys, causing the organs to enlarge and ultimately lose function over time.
“Instead of a kidney being one-and-half pounds and about the size of your fist. You know, my kidneys are 25 pounds apiece,” he said.
For the past few years, Bradford has been working to bring national attention to PKD, even as his fight takes a toll on his mind and his body.
“You can watch it pulsating,” said Bradford while pointing to his enlarged veins. “It blows the veins out basically.”
We went to meet Bradford at Davita, a dialysis center. He goes there three times a week, with each session lasting about four hours. Bradford was supposed to meet us for the second part of his interview, but unfortunately, he’s now in the hospital.
“It makes me sad,” said Sandra Scott, a dietician with Divata.
Scott says it's not uncommon for people to have PKD for years without even knowing it and that sometimes, no matter what some people with PKD do, it still might not be enough to survive.
“Bill is doing everything he can to do what’s right for treatments and unfortunately, he’ll have a bad day,” she said. “And with that, he’s ending up in the hospital. And sometimes they don’t come back.”
Bradford was eventually able to make it back home after his most recent scare but was too tired for another interview but said earlier that his fight will last as long as he can.
“If I can’t get on the national transplant registry I’ll be on dialysis for the rest of my life,” he said. “And dialysis is very rough on the body. 100 people start dialysis, five years later, 35 are left.”