The Kidney TRUST
kidneytrust.org/new/enews/2010-11/first-dialysis-patient-tour-davita/

First Dialysis Patient to Ride in Tour DaVita Takes Challenges Head On

Matthew Purvis in his Kidney TRUST jersey.

Matthew Purvis in his Kidney TRUST jersey.

Matthew Purvis, a 26-year-old volunteer firefighter from a small town in Florida, read about the Tour DaVita in a DaVita company magazine that his mother, a DaVita nurse, brought home earlier this year. The article described a challenging three-day, 240-mile bike ride that would be taking place in Washington state. Matthew, who is a dedicated bicyclist and outdoor enthusiast, said to himself, “Wow, this is right up my alley,” and proceeded to become the first dialysis patient to ride in the annual event that has raised awareness about chronic kidney disease and funds for The Kidney TRUST over the last four years.

Matthew didn’t think that he was doing anything special when he signed up for the event.  He had purchased a new bicycle in June and ridden more than 2,000 miles as part of his regular fitness regime and figured he could do the three-day ride without much problem, assuming he could get in his regular dialysis treatments during the event.  It was only when he arrived in Tacoma before the event (after the first airplane ride of his life) that he realized that other riders and Tour DaVita organizers and leadership thought that he stood out from the crowd in a big way.

Crossing the finish line: 'Dialysis is supposed to give you life, not take it away.'

Crossing the finish line: 'Dialysis is supposed to give you life, not take it away.'

“When I first got to Tacoma I had maybe 50 people come up to me to say hello and tell me how great it was that I was riding,” said Matthew.  “I didn’t know anyone at the event, but they knew me and made me feel at home.  It was a humbling experience.”

Matthew doesn’t think that the fact that he is on dialysis makes his achievement that far out of the ordinary.  “Dialysis is supposed to give you life, not take it away,” he said.  “Dialysis does pose many challenges and I’m one of the lucky ones to be in good health, but I want to encourage others to get out there and live healthy, active lives.  If I can be an inspiration for others on dialysis to get out and do the Tour next year, I’ll be happy.”

Matthew and his mom.

Matthew and his mom, Barbara Ann Purvis.

Matthew, who turned 26 just a couple of weeks before this year’s ride, suffered kidney failure as a child, but received a kidney transplant when he was six.  The transplanted kidney, which came from his Dad, lasted almost 15 years, but he has been on dialysis since November 2006 as he waits on a list for a new kidney.

Matthew is very grateful to his mom, Barbara Ann Purvis for all her support over the years, including a time in his teens when he says that he was difficult to deal with.  “My mom was a single parent and didn’t have it easy, but she always had faith in me,” said Matthew.  “A lot of my motivation to help others comes from her.  I’m proud to be part of the effort to raise awareness about kidney disease and how to prevent it.”

Matthew and Kidney TRUST CEO Annette Eros.

Matthew and Kidney TRUST CEO Annette Eros.

Matthew says that he usually rides his bike before dialysis because the procedure can leave him feeling “sluggish” afterwards, but he didn’t really have a choice for the event.   He had dialysis twice during the four days he was in Washington, but rode with all the other riders each day and finished the ride on the last day with a flourish – riding across the finish line with both hands raised and tears in his eyes.

According to TRUST President & CEO Annette Eros, Matthew wasn’t the only one who was crying.  “Everyone who meets him is amazed by his quiet determination and the matter of fact way he deals with kidney failure and dialysis,” she said.  “Matthew is a bright spirit and a real inspiration to us all.”