Growing up, Will Kleemeier learned all about polycystic kidney disease (PKD). He had several family members with PKD, so he knew that there was a chance that he too would receive a diagnosis. He did in 2004, though according to an article from the Cumberland Times News, later reshared on Yahoo!, Will only began experiencing several symptoms in 2017. His kidneys stopped working as well as they should. His blood pressure rose; his back, sides, and head ached. He also saw his abdomen increasing in size as his kidneys grew to around 5x the size of normal kidneys.
Pedaling for Kidney Disease
But Will knew that he had a choice: let PKD control his life, or take charge. He chose the latter. For as long as he could remember, Will had a dream and a desire to bike (“cycle”) around America — seeing the sights, meeting people, and just finding out what his body could do. And after his diagnosis, he figured: “What better time than now?” Will also saw this nationwide trip as an opportunity to raise PKD awareness (and funds for research).
His son Patrick joined him as a support vehicle driver. In June 2022, Will set off from Oregon with a goal of reaching New Jersey. Although he broke his elbow in Chicago (causing a slight delay as he recovered), Will once again began riding in September 2022.
Just recently, Will touched base in Maryland. Throughout his journey, he biked for as many as 72 miles each day. Part of his journey is to help raise awareness that there are different treatment options for PKD, but that there is also still much research that can be done towards treatments and cures.
Learn more about Will’s experience – and donate to the cause – through Pedaling for Kidney Disease.
About Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)
Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is an inherited disorder which causes clusters of cysts to develop (primarily) in the kidneys. PKD can be autosomal dominant or autosomal recessive. PKD1, PKD2, and PKHD1 gene mutations may all cause PKD. As the clusters of cysts develop, the kidneys are unable to adequately or effectively filter waste from the blood. Ultimately, this can cause kidney failure and other health issues. Symptoms can (but do not always) include:
- Clusters of cysts on the kidneys
- Enlarged kidneys
- Pain in the back and sides
- Abdominal fullness
- Heart valve abnormalities
- Kidney stones
- High blood pressure
- Hematuria (blood in the urine)
- Recurrent urinary tract infections
- Increased risk of aneurysms
Typically, treatment for PKD is symptomatic and includes medication, a healthy diet, and exercise. Antibiotics may combat infections. If kidney failure occurs, patients may require dialysis, surgery, or kidney transplants.