On the night of Thursday November 26th 2015 – Thanksgiving – the day before his 75th birthday, Dad passed away due to complications arising from kidney failure earlier in the year. Since 2008, when Mum suffered a debilitating brain hemorrhage, he had spent his time as a full-time carer. What is now tragically apparent, is that while caring for her, he had neglected to care for himself – and a combination of under-performing kidneys along with an incorrect diet caused complete renal failure and ultimately, his untimely death.
As with most cases like this, our family was completely unaware of kidney disease, its prevalence, its causes, how to prevent it or indeed, how to live with it. It is staggering to think that an estimated 1 in 10 people – both in Ireland and the U.S. – may have chronic kidney disease, and many may not know it. What we learned was a case of too little, too late – despite Dad reacting positively to dialysis 3 times a week and sticking to a renal diet, after a brief period of stability, his condition declined and he lost his fight less than 6 months later.
Dad, Me & Mountains
In recent years, Dad had followed my progress in climbing the seven summits (tallest mountain on each continent) with great interest, and lived vicariously through my expeditions while he cared for Mum. We shared a tear-filled long-distance phone call last June – him in Dublin, me in Alaska – where he assured me that I should not return home, but continue on my climb of Denali – that he would still be alive when I got back down. True to his word, he was. Sadly, he will not get to see me continue and hopefully complete all seven.
Honoring Dad – Mt. Everest Expedition
On March 28th 2017, I embark on a 2-month expedition with International Mountain Guides to climb to the summit of Mt. Everest, at 8,848m / 29,029ft, the tallest mountain on earth. More than anything, I wish Dad was still alive to see me attempt this, but that not being possible, I have dubbed this climb – my sixth of the seven summits – the Gerry Condon Memorial Expedition. I intend to honor his memory by raising money for a very worthy and relevant charity – the American Kidney Fund.
Please join me in the fight against kidney disease by making a donation today – and please subscribe to the blog for updates from my upcoming adventure!