George Lopez Finds a Perfect Match
When the comedian needed a new kidney, his wife, Ann, donated one of her own.
A Life With Kidney Disease continued...
His new kidney --- and his family's once-cavalier attitude toward his
sufferings --- inspired him to write an episode on his sitcom in which his
fictional son, Max, wets the bed repeatedly due to the same condition George
had. George says he played the role as he might have done with his own
daughter, Mayan --- if recent experiences hadn't taught him better.
"I [say to] Max: 'Don't tell your mom -- and don't drink water before
going to bed.' It wasn't hard to do those lines. My character wouldn't have
known or suspected something really was wrong."
Clues to Kidney Disease
At 17, George also had high blood pressure, which can be both a symptom of
and a precursor to kidney disease.
Looking back, he's shocked that someone as young as he had hypertension. At
the time, though, it raised no alarms, nor did the fatigue that had begun to
plague him as an adult. He rarely saw a doctor. George says he believes the
reason is, in large measure, cultural: "Latinos, we only go to the doctor
when we are bleeding. We forget about things internal. Fatigue is just
George's condition is only one path to kidney failure. The most common cause
is diabetes, in which a buildup of sugar in the blood has a similarly poisonous
effect. High blood pressure is another cause --- and an effect --- of failing
kidneys. An estimated 375,000 Americans are currently undergoing treatment for
kidney failure. It kills nearly 70,000 people each year.
Latinos are twice as likely as whites to develop diabetes, according to the
National Kidney Foundation, putting them at greater risk for kidney disease as
well. An estimated 13% of the Latino population has been diagnosed with
diabetes. Many more have the disease and don't know it.
"The people who come to see me do stand-up, they never go to the
doctor," George says of the many Latinos in the audience at his comedy
shows. "I tell them, you need to go! You need to get your blood checked.
That can tell you so much."