Newcastle man celebrates National Kidney Month by helping others understand the disease

March 25, 2015

By Elaine Porterfield

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NEW — 12:45 p.m. March 25, 2015

By C.B. Bell Newcastle residents Alan Hoshino and his wife Cheryl Hoshino are sharing their story to raise awareness about kidney disease.

By C.B. Bell
Newcastle residents Alan Hoshino and his wife Cheryl Hoshino are sharing their story to raise awareness about kidney disease.

Alan Hoshino knew for years he had kidney issues, but he was mostly able to avoid serious medical problems, thanks to his own vigilance about his health and great medical monitoring.

“Then, test results about 1 1/2 years ago showed a significant decline in kidney function,” said the 71-year-old Boeing retiree and Newcastle resident. “That’s when I started seeing a kidney doctor.”

The doctor told Hoshino he could expect permanent kidney failure before long. To prepare, Hoshino took a class at Northwest Kidney Centers to learn about the treatment choices available – a kidney transplant or dialysis, the process of using a machine to remove body waste and extra fluid when the kidneys can no longer do that job. Hoshino learned about various kinds of dialysis, and considered going three times a week to a dialysis center for treatment. Instead, he signed up for more training, and began nightly self-dialysis at home.

With March being National Kidney Month, Hoshino and his family hope to educate others about kidney disease and persuade them to talk to their doctors about it so they, too, can get the care they need.

For him, it’s meant the ability to enjoy his retirement. Because Hoshino’s dialysis machine runs while he sleeps, his days are free. “All things considered, I’m doing pretty good. I’m doing what I like,” he said.

“I have to give kudos to Northwest Kidney Centers. Their education program was great. People like myself are fortunate there is so much support here for kidney failure,” said Hoshino, who also credits his wife, Cheryl, grown children and friends for their care and support.

Hoshino and his wife even were able to pack the machine with them to Palm Springs, Calif., where they golfed for four days in row, and then went for a day to Disneyland with their grandson. The trip was his first foray out of town since he began dialysis, and Hoshino concedes he was a bit nervous before leaving. But his dialysis went just fine on the road, he said.

Hoshino is among more than 10 percent American adults who have kidney disease. As an Asian American, he was three to five times as likely as a Caucasian to have the problem because Asians are also more likely to have diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure, which are common causes of kidney disease.

Chronic kidney disease often gets worse over time. If it progresses to irreversible kidney failure, the person will die without regular dialysis treatments or a kidney transplant. However, kidney damage can be slowed down or stopped if people get diagnosed early and change their lifestyles to incorporate healthier habits.

“People don’t appreciate the significance of maintaining good health,” Hoshino said. “You don’t sometimes find that out until after something has gone catastrophically wrong.”

Knowing about his kidney condition, Hoshino postponed the need for dialysis for quite a while by taking medication to control his blood pressure. “But I hit a cliff, and that is when this all started,” he said. Now he’s awaiting a kidney transplant, which would end his need for dialysis.

“I’ve been on the list for close to 1 1/2 years,” he said. “It could be a while because of my less common blood type, Type B. The expectation is perhaps a five-year wait. Hopefully, I’ll have the opportunity.”

Hoshino wants everyone to consider being an organ donor. People can donate a kidney while they’re alive or indicate on their driver’s license their desire to donate organs when they’ve passed away. “I think people just don’t realize what the need is,” Hoshino said.

“For people to donate their kidneys after they’re gone seems like a simple solution for a lot of people who need them. But people just don’t think about it.” Roughly 100,000 people in the United States are currently waiting for a kidney transplant. People with kidney transplants often live longer, have better health and a better quality of life than people on dialysis.

To learn more about kidney disease, dialysis and kidney transplant, visit Northwest Kidney Centers’ website at

Elaine Porterfield is a freelance writer based in Seattle. She wrote this article on behalf of Northwest Kidney Centers.

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