In light of the National Kidney Foundation’s 29th Annual Kidney Ball at Philadelphia’s prestigious Hyatt at the Bellevue (Saturday, March 9), Philadelphia Style caught up with gala honoree and 60’s musical teen sensation, Bobby Rydell. Below, the Philadelphia native discusses being a kidney transplant survivor, his hopes and goals for the future, and his work with the NKF.
How did you find out you were in need of a transplant?
BOBBY RYDELL: In December 2011 I started to become very ill. I was in the hospital in mid December. After discharge I did a show with the Golden Boys at the Borgata for New Year's Eve; three days after that show I was re-admitted to the hospital and talk of a liver transplant started. I was having bouts of encephalopathy—swelling of the brain—due to the inability of my liver to rid the toxins from my body. It was at this point that I started the process to be evaluated for liver transplant. By May 2012 my kidneys had failed and I was started on dialysis three times a week. With this new crisis I became a candidate for a double transplant.
What is your goal with spreading the word about your experience?
BR: Although you can live without your kidneys because of dialysis, it is not the quality of life that most people want. After what I have been through, I feel that the public needs to be made aware of how important it is to take care of your kidneys.
How do you hope your experience will benefit others in similar situations?
BR: I hope that after hearing my story the public will pay attention to their bodies and see the doctor on a regular basis. It is important to follow the advice of medical professionals. I had been warned a few years ago that my kidneys were being compromised due to my diabetes, but since there was no pain and I felt fine I thought the doctors were being overly dramatic—boy, was I wrong!
How did you first become involved with the National Kidney Foundation (NKF)?
BR: I was approached by the NKF about two months after my surgery in regards to being an advocate. I, of course, agreed since I had just experienced a transplant. If one person avoids being put on dialysis by my story, then it is worth it.
Tickets for this weekend’s Kidney Ball are sold out, but discover more ways you can support the cause at kidney.org.