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Denver mother shares her journey with kidney disease, encourages others to get tested

National Kidney Month Lisa Latts
Posted at 9:54 PM, Mar 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-08 23:57:42-05

DENVER — March is National Kidney Month. While that may not mean much to you, chances are someone in your family is affected. One out of three people is at risk for kidney disease.

Denver mom Lisa Latts didn’t know she was at risk until she was well into her pregnancy.

“So it was pretty low-risk until I was 33 and a half weeks, and at that time I started to not feel very well," Latts explained. "I started to feel very tired. I was very puffy, I had a lot of edema or swelling, which is very common in pregnancy, and tired, which, you know, I was carrying around this huge belly.”

She was feeling huge because she was carrying twins. As for the symptoms, they are very similar to those with kidney disease.

The typical signs are feeling more tired and having less energy, trouble concentrating, a poor appetite, trouble sleeping, muscle cramping at night and swollen feet and ankles.

Suddenly, the symptoms were getting worse for this mom-to-be, who is also a high-risk pregnancy doctor.

“I developed acute kidney failure, which then turned into chronic kidney failure," said Latts. "So it happened like that. I, literally after the babies were born, I got catastrophically ill and sort of woke up two weeks later and was on dialysis. “

Latts gave birth to her twins when they were 33 weeks. She shared the pictures of her family in the hospital, holding preemies Sophie and Daniel for the first time two weeks after they were born. The two are now 12-years-old.

National Kidney Month Lisa Latts

“I was on dialysis. And we were hoping my kidneys would get better because it was an acute kidney, kidney injury. So it was not impossible that they would recover, but they didn't," Latts said. "Two or two and a half months after the babies were born, they told me I needed to be evaluated for kidney transplant. So that was, that was a big deal... That was a tough day.”

Thirty-seven million Americans have chronic kidney disease, and so many people are not aware. It’s called a silent killer because people often don’t know they have it until kidney disease has progressed.

According the National Kidney Foundation, early detection is key. The best way to do that, according to National Kidney Foundation spokesperson Danielle Otsuka, is to ask your family physician when you go in for your annual physical. It’s a simple blood test.

Latts ended up on the waitlist for a kidney transplant.

“We put out the call far and wide, and because what I have can be genetic, I actually had a cousin who was a very good match and was willing to donate, but they decided they didn't want her to donate because it's possible that she could have the same gene that I had that caused me to have this," Latts said. "Many of my friends, so many of my friends got tested to see if they were compatible and would be a good donor. And I'm so grateful to them. And then one of my friends was a good match and she ended up giving me her kidney. So I'll be forever grateful to her.”

Latts was one of the lucky ones. There are 100,000 people in this country on the waiting list for a kidney transplant.

“If there's someone in your life who needs a kidney, to be able to donate and give that gift of life is an incredible thing," Latts said. "My donor tells me it changed her life"

The National Kidney Foundation is hosting a fundraiser Thursday night featuring Great Chefs of the West. For more information, click here.

For more information on kidney disease, click here.