Podcast Episodes

Niem's Story: PD and Beyond

Each month Satellite Healthcare will revisit a person or topic to provide an update for our readers on personal progress or new industry advancements.

We learned more about Satellite WellBound Mountain View patient Niem Tran last year, and shared his story then with our Satellite community. As he enters a new major stage of his healthcare, we wanted to revisit Niem’s story.

Niem Tran looked around at the meeting of the Bay Area Association of Kidney Patients support group and came to a realization: He was the youngest patient there.

It’s not ‘normal’ to be diagnosed with Stage 5 kidney disease in your 30s. But then Niem Tran isn’t a normal patient.

From the start of treatment, the Silicon Valley tech worker was determined not to let the diagnosis derail his active life.

“It took me a couple of weeks to wrap my head around what was happening,” he said.

Fatigue was one of his symptoms and his doctor told him dialysis offered a path to more energy. He got on board quickly.

Niem was born with smaller than average kidneys, the first in his family to face the challenges. He was diagnosed with Stage 3 CKD in 2010 and despite following the doctor’s orders, the disease kept gaining on him.

He turned to Satellite Healthcare early in 2016 and started on peritoneal dialysis at home.

“With PD, I feel better than I did before,” he said. “I feel more alert. Toward end of Stage 4 and Stage 5, I was drowsy and tired. Now I can eat more than before.”

Baxter’s machine gives him the freedom to travel, an important part of his lifestyle. He packed the machine and took off on trips to the Coachella Music Festival, to Monterey and most recently to Seattle.

His employer, his friends and his girlfriend have all been supportive. On the Coachella trip, he and his friends rented a house. One of the friends even went out a day early to accept the delivery of dialysis supplies Niem needed during the festival.

For air travel, he makes sure the machine carries all the necessary labels – fragile, medical equipment, handle with care. The airlines and TSA seem to understand how important it is to his well-being that the machine arrive in good working order, he said.

“Satellite did a great job training and talking about options,” he said.

Niem shares his experiences and what he has learned. He’s become an active participant in support groups, offering advice and continues to talk with other patients. And he’s writing about his journey in his blog, NiemTran.com.

But now he’s ready to embrace the next phase – a kidney transplant.

A friend, Jason Garcia, stepped forward and became a willing and matching donor. Together, they’ve embarked on the long and arduous process of testing and preparation is underway, pointing toward a December surgery date.

On the recent trip to Seattle, Niem remembers looking out at Puget Sound during sunset. All that water made him think about swimming again; made him think about life after the transplant.

For example, there may be some chocolate – just a taste or two – and some international travel in his future, too.

Satellite’s home-based personalized dialysis and training approach have kept him moving ahead. Niem’s resilience landed him at the threshold of a happy new chapter to his life.

NephTalk will keep readers updated on Niem’s story beyond PD.