A Cause for Wellness

McFarlane launches annual benefit concert and plans for kidney wellness center

On a February night in the performance space at Famous Dave’s in Uptown, a standing room only crowd packed the venue while music filled the air, all in support of a kidney transplant for Greg McFarlane. Waves of raucous blues, jazz and reggae performed by dozens of local musicians with national acclaim fueled a buzz of celebration and support for McFarlane, friend and fellow musician, in his time of need.

“There were a lot of emotions,” says McFarlane. “It was a very surreal event.”

Christened Kidney Rock, the inaugural event raised awareness of kidney disease as well as funds to

support Angela Graham, McFarlane’s niece and kidney donor, while she healed from the transplant. Between the huge turnout and the funds raised that night - totaling nearly $14,000 - it became clear that Kidney Rock 2016 was the start of something big.

“It was a very surreal event.”

McFarlane recalls at least one performer’s impression after the show, who exclaimed, “I knew this was going to be a great event, but I didn’t know it was going to be a love fest!”

Still in the planning stages, the second annual Kidney Rock Benefit Concert will continue the “love fest,” this time with fundraising efforts to support the National Kidney Foundation. Meanwhile, as McFarlane enjoys his increased energy and overall well being during his recovery from surgery and addiction, he is formulating yet another plan to help addicts and alcoholics with kidney failure.

A population in need

McFarlane is determined to open a wellness center with services geared specifically toward addicts and alcoholics with kidney failure. Given the causal relationship between substance abuse and kidney disease, the target population is substantial. He encountered one potential client in the waiting room at the dialysis clinic, someone McFarlane considers the exact type of person who could benefit most from his efforts.

The man, an alcoholic, told McFarlane he had been coming in for dialysis three days a week for 13 years. He had never been able to stay sober long enough to be considered for a transplant, and had resigned himself to routine dialysis indefinitely. Hearing that McFarlane owned sober houses, the man asked for help.

“I think about him every day,” says McFarlane. “I still see his face. Thirteen years? There’s nothing right about that.”

Recovery = Wellness

In order to get on the list to receive a kidney transplant, an individual must pass a barrage of tests examining mental, physical and spiritual health - all of which happen to be areas explicitly addressed by holistic recovery and wellness principles. McFarlane hopes the wellness center will provide an avenue through which patients learn to work toward a life of recovery and achieve the health standards necessary for a transplant.

“My goal is to be able to have them walk to their doctor...with their head up high, cleaned up, with a sense of satisfaction and joy in their hearts,” says McFarlane.

It’s the same joy and satisfaction McFarlane says he felt during Kidney Rock, a culmination of his own unrelenting recovery and drive to help others. The emotions were especially fitting for the occasion, considering McFarlane went in for his transplant the very next day.

This article appears in the Fall issue of New Heights quarterly magazine.


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