Kenny Sorenson’s birthday is coming up, the big 4-0, but the day will likely be overshadowed by another, perhaps even more significant date- his kidney transplant day.
The Goose Creek native has been waiting for the life-saving transplant for several years. For Sorenson, the wait has been agonizing due to the devastating effects of kidney disease; loss of vision, complications with other organs including his stomach and pancreas and severe fatigue.
Sorenson said he doesn’t remember how it feels to have a healthy body, to feel “normal.”
He was diagnosed with diabetes at age 18 but around age 30 his health went downhill fast. At that time, Sorenson learned he had end-stage renal disease stage 3. He was forced to leave his career in hotel management and move in with his primary caretaker, his mother, Kathy.
“I used to work in the luxury hotel business and I loved it,” Sorenson said. “I’d like to get back to work, everyone says they don’t like working but when you aren’t doing it…. I joke that I’m dumber because I don’t get that kind of challenge anymore.”
In his healthier days Sorenson played the saxophone, enjoyed traveling to concerts and dining at popular restaurants in Charleston.
Lately though, he doesn’t have the energy to do much of anything. He lost the vision in his right eye so he’s not able to read as much as before. Kathy tries to take him along on errands, just to get him out of the house, but even those everyday outings require more energy than Sorenson’s weak body can handle.
“It hurts my heart,” Kathy Sorenson said. “It’s been hard to see him like that because he was very vibrant.”
Sorenson said sometimes he feels like a burden on his mother.
“She’s getting to that point in her life where she shouldn’t have to worry about her kids and I know it hurts her because there’s nothing she can do,” Sorenson said.
During one terrible bout of sickness Sorenson even missed his sister’s wedding. Despite his circumstances, Sorenson said he often tells people not to feel bad for him because he’s realized there are other people who have it worse than him.
“If you go to a dialysis center, I’m a breath of fresh air compared to the people around me,” Sorenson said.
His dialysis treatment takes 3 ½ hours three times a week.
“It takes a ton out of me,” Sorenson said regarding the process.
Sorenson’s family members are willing to donate a kidney but unfortunately many of them were dealing with their own ailments. Sorensons’ twin brother, Kevin, also has diabetes.
“I am lucky that I’m at the age I am at because I got on the transplant list faster than most,” Sorenson said.
Sorenson has recently undergone dental procedures to ensure his teeth are healthy, a precaution that must be taken to reduce risk of infections after the transplant. He said typically doctors recommend the dental work when patients are very close to receiving a transplant.
Once the life-saving transplant is complete, Sorenson will face a long road to recovery. Another daunting aspect is finances. Medical bills are piling up and without the ability to work, Sorenson has little chance of getting out of debt any time soon.
The cost of it all, even after Medicare, will be around $20,000 and the anti-rejection medication will be about $1000 per month. Sorenson said he’ll take those medicines for the rest of his life.
Anyone willing to participate in living donation can learn more about getting tested for transplant compatibility here: https://muschealth.org/medical-services/transplant/living-donation
To learn more about Sorenson’s journey and to contribute to a fund that has been set up to assist in covering the costs of the transplant, go here: https://www.gofundme.com/shhpq-a-kidney-for-kenny.