Kidney disease does not discriminate -

23-year old says kidney disease does not discriminate

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Most 23-year-olds are just finishing college, planning their professional careers, and thinking about their future. Shanel Dove is no different -- except she's on dialysis.

"Every night I get my supplies and take them to my room," Dove said.

A spare bedroom in her home holds boxes of tubing, gauze, soap, and sanitizer -- just some of the supplies she orders every month to help treat her kidney disease.

"My process is about 8 1/2 hours. So it does it while I'm asleep. I hook up to the machine, and it does everything on its own," Dove said.

Dove has been waiting for a kidney for three years. In the meantime, the machine does what her kidneys cannot.

"I really didn't know what was involved, like, I wasn't really educated about it. I just knew about the disease," Dove said.

Kidney disease is most prevalent in the African-American community. Some risk factors include diabetes and hypertension, but doctors say most African-Americans develop the disease because of genetics.

"I got it from my father," Dove said. "He has the same disease and my brothers also."

"There's a gene called the APLO 1 gene that's prevalent in about 38 percent of African-Americans," said kidney specialist Dr. Joseph Brannigan. "Very rare in the rest of the population. That is a tremendous marker for kidney disease. Probably the biggest reason for the discrepancy between African-Americans and whites."

More African-Americans are living with the disease and an overwhelming majority need kidney transplants than any other group.

"I think that's a problem we're fighting. We haven't won the battle yet. But we're getting better," Brannigan said. "The bigger problem, since this is largely a genetic problem in the African-American population, frequently you'll find people who will donate but can't donate because they have kidney disease also."

Brannigan, a nephrologist, says many doctors are making more of an effort to educate African-Americans, but they're still fighting an underlying culture of mistrust in the community especially when it comes to organ donation.

"You've got to talk to the whole family, let them know this is safe, that nobody is trying to take advantage of them, and that the advantage of a kidney is dramatic," Brannigan said.

When Dove started college four years ago, her kidneys started shutting down.

"My face was swollen and legs were swollen because my kidneys weren't filtering correctly, so I had to start dialysis," Dove said.

Dialysis didn't exactly fit into dorm life, so she had to finish up her nursing degree by moving back home.

In the last few months, she's been called twice to get ready for a transplant, but both times, it turned out the kidney wasn't the best match

"I don't get my hopes up when they call because I know it could not go through, so I don't get my hopes up. I just say maybe it's mine, maybe it's not," Dove said. "I'll just wait."

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