Health Check: Couple raising awareness about rare kidney disease as husband seeks donor

Kathy and Joe Barattini, who have been married 15 years, are raising awareness about a rare kidney disease. (WJAR)

A Johnston couple is raising awareness about a rare kidney disease.

Kathy and Joe Barattini have been married 15 years. They’re season ticket holders to the Providence Bruins and root for the team win or lose.

“They dropped to fourth place,” Joe informs his wife. “From second."

But one game they’re hoping to come out on top doesn’t have anything to do with hockey.

The couple is fighting against polycystic kidney disease, or PKD, which affects about 60,000 people in the United States, according to the National Kidney Foundation.

Joe was born with the disease. It causes fluid-filled cysts to form in and on his kidneys.

PKD runs in his family.

"My dad had it,” said Joe. “All the males in my family."

Over the years, he got by on medications. But then his kidneys got to the point where they were failing and he needed dialysis to live.

"Three days a week, roughly four hours a day, “said Joe of his dialysis treatments.

He has already lost one kidney because it became so heavy and large -- about 8 pounds.

His kidney had to be removed, and his remaining kidney has no function. The dialysis and about a dozen medications are keeping him alive as he waits for a kidney transplant.

Now, the dialysis recently starting to take a toll on this business owner who runs an underground lawn sprinkler company.

"He'll go to dialysis, have to come home, rest a little bit, try to eat a little bit and have a light load,” Kathy said of her husband on the days he undergoes dialysis.

But Joe said he isn't looking for pity. Instead, he hopes to raise awareness, as well as something else.

"We just need donors," he said.

Joe’s been told he's number 30 on the transplant list, which could mean another couple of years.

But a living donor would mean that he and others who are waiting can get in much sooner.

“I’m just hoping there’s people out there who are willing to donate a kidney,” said Kathy

A kidney transplant is his only chance for a cure.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, nearly 101,000 people are awaiting a kidney transplant. There is no wait for a match through a living donor.

Anyone looking to donate a kidney locally can contact the Rhode Island Hospital Transplant Center at 401-444-3284.

Click here to learn more.

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