For the media

Facing a genetic disorder by helping others

By The Health News Team | March 1, 2022
Adrienne and James Montgomery at the PKD awareness walk in Carlsbad

Adrienne Montgomery and her husband, James during the polycystic kidney disease (PKD) awareness walk in Carlsbad.

For Adrienne Montgomery, being diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease (PKD) in 2006 later propelled her to find ways to make that journey easier for others with the same diagnosis.

According to the National Institutes for Health (NIH), PKD is one of the most common genetic disorders, affecting about 500,000 people in the U.S. People with PKD have clusters of cysts that develop on their kidneys, causing the kidneys to enlarge and lose function over time. Declining kidney function can result in end-stage renal disease that requires dialysis or a kidney transplant. A healthy kidney is roughly the size of a fist. However, a kidney affected by PKD can get as big as a football and impact other organs.

Turning fear in to action
When Adrienne was diagnosed with PKD at age 26 after a visit to the emergency room, the unknown was scary. Struck by sudden fatigue and shortness of breath, she arrived at the hospital and underwent a series of tests, including abdomen and chest scans that showed the cysts on her kidneys. After learning of her condition, Adrienne began not only to seek out a better understanding of what to expect, but also to do her part to help others with the same diagnosis by sharing information.

When she discovered the work being done to bring awareness to the disease, Adrienne quickly got involved in the PKD Foundation’s local chapter. What began as a way for Adrienne to learn about the disease turned into an opportunity to connect with others who have the same condition.

“Most people don’t know about PKD until it directly affects them or someone they care about. The support and understanding that I’ve found within the PKD community has been amazing,” says Adrienne.

Each year, the PKD Foundation holds a fundraising walk with 100% of proceeds benefiting research. As the COVID-19 pandemic impacted large in-person events, Adrienne’s family and friends got creative in their fundraising efforts.

“I had friends and family join me in Carlsbad, where we made signs and T-shirts and walked together. Other friends of mine would walk or run wherever they were on a day that month and supported the cause that way.”

A team effort
As an emergency medicine pharmacist at Sharp Grossmont Hospital, Adrienne works closely with the Pharmacy team as well as the Emergency Department. With the support of both groups, Adrienne and her team organized a bake sale in October 2021 with all funds raised to support PKD research through the PKD Foundation. Eager co-workers baked a variety of sweet treats that were sold for just a few dollars, and together they raised over $2,300.

“I was truly blown away by the support from my Sharp family. Not only did they purchase baked goods, but some even donated up to $30 for the cause. I felt so supported by my peers, and grateful for the opportunity to spark conversation about PKD.”

In addition to the outpouring of support from her Sharp colleagues, Adrienne’s family and friends helped her raise additional funds, for a grand total of nearly $7,000.

Looking ahead
Determined not to let her diagnosis stop her from living life to its fullest, Adrienne continues to engage in activities that bring her joy, such as spending time with her family and friends, running, walking, and curling up with a good book.

As an active volunteer advocate, Adrienne is hopeful that her network can inspire others and push for additional funding for PKD research.

“My hope is that more people become familiar with PKD and how they can help those affected by it. I feel like I have this for a reason, and if I can help someone else who is going through this, that’s what I want to do.”

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