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Reginald Hershey embraces his daughters Mia and Lauren, who inspired him to pursue a kidney transplant and restore his health.
Reginald (Reggie) Hershey was diagnosed with kidney disease in 1989 when he was 20 years old and began kidney dialysis right away.
He had a kidney donated by his brother for transplant in 1995. Unfortunately, it lasted a little over two years and failed.
“I was so weak I could hardly walk up a flight of stairs,” he explains. “But I felt better once the kidney was removed.”
Reggie went back on dialysis again until 2011.
“Dialysis is tough,” he explains. “You go in three times a week for five hours at a time, while trying to work full time.”
“After we had our daughter Lauren, I wanted to spend more time with her, but dialysis made that hard. When Mia was born a few years later, I decided to start figuring out how to get back on the transplant list,” he continues. “I want to be around to see these girls grow up and walk them down the aisle!”
Reggie has worked in the restaurant business for much of his life. He went to culinary school, got his degree, and had his own business as a caterer and a chef. However, when he began contemplating the idea of a second transplant, he didn’t have health insurance. And he needed a dental clearance. Before a kidney dialysis patient can move up the transplant list, he must be free of any dental decay or infection. For uninsured patients, the cost of dental care to get the required dental clearance can be prohibitive.
“The Northwest Kidney Center referred me to Project Access Northwest,” says Reggie. “They were amazing. It was like a Godsend. I wasn’t working full time and I was trying to start a business. All the money was going out, nothing was coming in. Project Access NW put me in touch with Dr. Linda Lee, a dentist in Federal Way. She is an amazing dentist and took great care of me. She went above and beyond to make certain I got what I needed.”
Reggie got his new kidney late in 2011.
“I am 100 percent,” he says. “I went back to my doctor yesterday, and he said I was doing great.”
Today Reggie works full time at Sleep Country USA.
“I figured if I could sell my catering business every day, I could sell something else,” he explains.
“I like the work (at my current employer) and they have great insurance there,” he adds with a smile. “Even dental!”