Man with the iron will

September 11, 2008 "We have the ability to inspire others by doing what inspires us,"

Shad Ireland talked to patients at the Fresenius Medical Care Dialysis Center today about the importance of physical fitness.

"People with end-stage renal disease should be exercising an hour a day, four days a week," Ireland said.

Shad was diagnosed with kidney failure 27 years ago at the age of 10.

"Within 6 months, I had 80 pounds of fluid floating around in my body, and I needed emergency dialysis to stay alive," Ireland said.

Shad lost his first kidney transplant in 1993. That's when he began the transition from struggling with dialysis to fulfilling his life-long dream of becoming a professional athlete.

"I went from 145 pounds down to 75 pounds, I was in a coma for 6 weeks, was told I wasn't expected to live," Ireland said.

He then saw The Ironman on TV as he was recovering.

Shad made himself a promise that that would be him one day.

11 years later, he traveled to Lake Placid to become the 1st dialysis patient to do an Ironman.

Shad plans to do it bigger next time.

Next month, he'll be in Dallas, for the last of 5 races in the Lifetime Fitness Series, 5 triathlons back-to-back.

"I'm doing the Olympic distance, which is a 1 mile swim, a 25 mile bike ride, and then a 6.2 mile run," Ireland said.

And that's his dream for these patients, that they will believe, they can live full lives

"I'm proud of the fact that I can leave knowing that I've made a difference," Ireland said.

Shad Ireland also reminds people that obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure are the leading causes of kidney failure.

He says the best way he can become an advocate is to keep people from becoming patients.

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