A total of 26 million Americans have chronic kidney disease, and millions more are at risk.
African-Americans are among those most at risk for developing kidney problems, but it's preventable and treatable if diagnosed early.
A Raleigh man with the disease is being called a "Hero of Hope" by the American Kidney Fund, a nonprofit that provides financial assistance to dialysis patients.
A camera crew arrived at Eric Dolby's grandparents' Raleigh home to record his story. The video will be shown in October at an award ceremony in Washington, D.C., for the American Kidney Fund.
The call came as a surprise, he said.
Dolby has end stage renal disease, as do 12 of his cousins and 13 aunts and uncles who died from it.
The disease ended his career as a nurse and ultimately left him living out of his car at a Texas truck stop.
“I lost everything,” he said. “I utilized everything I had to try to maintain.”
He's back on his feet now and determined to help others at the New Bern House, a homeless shelter.
“One of the things I do, I try to do a feeding as often as I can. But with my health, sometimes it's not as often as I want to,” Dolby said.
He cooks the meals at home the night before.
At the New Bern House, they do about two meals a day - lunch and dinner - serving about 50 people at a time. A number of people at the shelter have health problems.
“Your health is not your No. 1 concern when you're dealing with all these other issues,” Dolby said.
He said his mission is to educate.
“Educate them on hypertension, diabetes and health and wellness,” he said. “And you never know who you're going to make an impact on.”
His wife Tamika says her husband was happy to serve others without recognition. But she's thankful others see him as a "hero of hope.”
“Now is the time that he may receive some of the good that's coming to him,” she said. “He's given so much to the world.”