|Gerry Maceda/Special to MyDesert|
“I thought I hurt because of work,” says Valenzuela, 54, who has never shied away from difficult work.
The oldest of nine children, Valenzuela came to the United States at 18 looking for work to help support his family. He did back-breaking labor as an undocumented migrant worker before becoming a citizen and starting his company, Valenzuela Landscaping, in 1993.
He was no stranger to the aches and pains that come with manual labor. But the kind of hurt that sent him to the hospital seeking relief last September was different.
“I couldn't sleep,” says Valenzuela. “I'd go to bed tired, and I'd get up tired. My feet would swell and my back would hurt. It got to the point where I couldn't take the pain.”
About 350,000 people across the nation are estimated to have end-stage kidney disease.
Roughly 65,000 die of kidney failure each year, according to the National Kidney Foundation.