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Cotton Lake man has stake in Fargo Kidney Walk

Stephen Seymour, seated in a wheelchair, will be participating in the Kidney Walk on June 6 in Fargo. Seymour had a kidney transplant in 2001, but lost the new kidney two years later. He is on dialysis three days a week now.

Stephen Seymour may not be able to get around much without his wheelchair or walker, but he plans to participate in the Kidney Walk for the second year.

The Cotton Lake man has lived with diabetes for about 10 years, has lost all of his toes to the disease and spends four and a half hours a day three days a week in dialysis, but that's not stopping him.

The Kidney Walk, to benefit the National Kidney Foundation in St. Paul, is June 6 at Newman Outdoor Field in Fargo, home of RedHawks baseball.

It started in the late 1990s for Seymour.

"I have diabetes, and that pretty much led to the loss of my kidneys," he said.

Although he's always kept his residence at Cotton Lake, he worked as a teacher in Catherine, N.D., also. He continued teaching while he started his dialysis treatment.

Seymour chose to do peritoneal dialysis, where he could do the dialysis at home. He did it twice a day (noon and evening) and then all night long.

"That was a headache," he said of all the chemicals and equipment he had to deal with and make room for in his house.

In 2001, he received a kidney transplant from his sister-in-law, and he was off dialysis for a year. But one year later, he lost the kidney to a virus.

"It was always in my body, but I didn't know it until I got the transplant," he said of the virus.

He said the virus is similar to having chicken pox, and if he had another transplant, he wouldn't get the virus again.

But, another transplant doesn't look to be in Seymour's near future.

He had a rough time recovering from the transplant. He developed myasthenia gravis.

"The nerve endings at the muscles get plugged up so one nerve can't jump from one to another. It makes muscles weak," he explained.

Seymour's muscles were so weak, in fact, he had to have a feeding tube for a year because he couldn't swallow.

In 2003, Seymour was back on peritoneal dialysis, but it wasn't effective enough this time. So he started hemodialysis, which he has been on since.

He relaxes at St. Mary's Innovis Health and MeritCare's Kidney Dialysis Unit in Detroit Lakes three days a week for four and a half hours each time, "the longest of anybody here," he said.

One of Seymour's daughters used to be a dialysis technician in Detroit Lakes, and "naturally she got me involved" in the Kidney Walk. The walk consists of 10 laps around the Newman Outdoor Field track.

Registration begins at 9 a.m. that Saturday, followed by the opening ceremonies at 10 and the closing ceremonies at 11:15.

Last year was the first Kidney Walk, and over $45,000 was raised, with nearly $10,000 of that coming from the Detroit Lakes area alone. A percentage of the money raised goes back to the community.

Tina Moore, clinical director for MeritCare Dialysis, said she has requested monies raised from the Kidney Foundation for families in need of help with transportation costs, for example.

"The Kidney Foundation has really, really made great strides," Seymour said. "That money is very well spent."

The waiting period for a kidney transplant is much shorter, he said. Plus the foundation helps promote home dialysis, making it easier for some patients.

For those interested in donating to the Kidney Walk can contact Tina Moore at 847-0825.