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National High Potassium Awareness Day: Patient Story, Leigh-Ann Williams

Leigh-Ann Williams is currently a home hemodialysis patient. She has been on dialysis for five years and has done both in-center and home dialysis.

Leigh-Ann was a young college student who was always on the go when she found out she had kidney failure that resulted from Lupus. It was when she started dialysis that Leigh-Ann decided to start making changes in her life and eating habits to improve how she felt. Leigh-Ann says that she started dialysis in-center with a lot of older patients, but she knew that there were younger patients out there too. She wanted to show other patients, like her, that you can still live a good life even while on dialysis. She began living healthier while advocating for patients, hoping to inspire others.

Leigh-Ann knows the importance of following the kidney diet. When she was at the hospital for acute kidney failure, she was told that her potassium levels were so high that she would have only had a few days left to live as her heart would have stopped. 

As a dialysis patient, she pays special attention to watching the potassium and phosphorus in her diet. She says that she hasn’t completely stopped eating everything she loves, but she now eats it in moderation and looks for healthier alternatives. For example, Leigh-Ann says that she loves orange juice and use to drink it daily, but oranges and orange juice are both high in potassium, so now she only has it as a special treat every once in a while, in moderation.

She encourages fellow kidney patients to start eating healthy before they even go on dialysis to possibly help delay dialysis as long as possible. She encourages those already on dialysis to adhere to their kidney-friendly diet. She shares that dialysis already makes you feel bad, but you don’t have to add to that by eating foods that your body can’t tolerate.

Leigh-Ann joined the AAKP Ambassadors initiative in September 2019 and plans to continue being an advocate for fellow patients and be a “dialysis warrior” while she waits for a kidney transplant.

National High Potassium Awareness Day is on May 1. Learn more at www.areyouok.org