About 26 million Americans have chronic kidney disease—the precursor to kidney failure, which currently affects more than 500,000 Americans. With rising rates of diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, experts predicted a 60 percent increase in the number of kidney failure patients by 2020.
Wells does not have diabetes. His kidney failure resulted from Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS)—a disease that attacks tiny units (glomeruli) within the kidney where blood is cleaned. Sclerosis refers to scarring or hardening. First noted on a military physical at age 18, his FSGS symptoms worsened some 20 years later, and a kidney transplant was performed in 1998. That kidney, donated by his wife, failed in January 2006. In March 2007, he started daily home dialysis .