Hairstylist to attend kidney disease conference

DOWNEY - Longtime Downey hair stylist and independent businesswoman Deborah "Dee Dee" Drotter will be traveling to Washington, D.C., to attend a conference March 14-15 held by the Polycystic Kidney Disease Foundation (PKD Foundation), and to share her personal story with members of Congress and explain the needs of transplant patients.Dee Dee, who is affected by the genetic condition known as PKD, continued working during the two years she was on dialysis prior to getting her new kidney in November 2008. After four months of recovery, during which she had to wear a mask and avoid public places that might expose her to infection, Dee Dee was back at work and chatting with clients as she cut and styled their hair. Her energy and easy laugh surprise people when they find out that she now must take nine anti-rejection drugs every day for the rest of her life. Her co-workers and clients at Johnny & Co., where she has worked for 22 years, all say that they are inspired by her strength and positive outlook. The PKD Foundation, whose mission is to help advance research and treatment and find a possible cure, is sponsoring Dee Dee's attendance at its annual conference because her situation is characteristic of how the disease is passed genetically, even though not everyone in a family may receive the trait. It is also possible that some people with the trait may not exhibit symptoms. The disorder is one which causes non-cancerous cysts to form, primarily within the kidneys. This interferes with kidney function and can often lead to end-stage renal failure. High blood pressure is also a serious risk. At its most extreme, the disease can affect all of the systems of the body. Greater public awareness is one PKD Foundation goal because regular checkups can lead to treatments that might reduce damage to the kidneys from complications. Dee Dee's mother was on dialysis for the last 12 years of her life before dying at age 56. During that time she also suffered a stroke. Two of Dee Dee's older brothers also died from this condition, one at age 53 and one at age 58. A niece and great-niece now show signs of the disease. Now 62 years old, Dee Dee is grateful that medical advancements have allowed her to live longer and with a better quality of life. She was able to enjoy her grandchildren, even while on dialysis. Dee Dee, who graduated from Warren High in 1966, has three other siblings who have shown no symptoms of the disease so far. However it is still possible that the trait could have been passed on to their children. Even as she snips and tints, Dee Dee is spreading the word about a local PKD Foundation fundraiser. On Saturday, March 12, the Orange County Chapter will host a fine wine and food event in Irvine. Tickets are $50 and are available from Dee Dee at Johnny & Co. on Downey Avenue. People can also find more information by going online to March 12 is still a work day for Dee Dee, so she will pack early in order to be ready to board the plane for Washington the next day. On March 14 and 15 she will be representing Los Angeles County at the Foundation's national conference where she will have an opportunity to urge support among legislators for further research and continued drug coverage. A return flight to California is scheduled for March 16, and after one day's rest, Dee Dee will be back to work, despite her medical condition, and grateful for the opportunity to do what she can on behalf of others.

********** Published: March 3, 2011 - Volume 9 - Issue 46