- Associated Press - Monday, June 4, 2018

WILSON, N.C. (AP) - Despite his age, Lloyd Cameron could be a poster child.

Cameron, 57, celebrated his 30th year being on dialysis in Wilson.

The lifelong farm worker from Elm City was surrounded by nurses, doctors and friends as the rare anniversary was recognized at DaVita of Wilson.

“I love them all,” Cameron said of his supporters. “They have been so nice and kind to me. I guess that’s why I do so good. They keep me straight in line.”

Cameron has come in to the facility for dialysis three times a week since he was 27.

“I’m happy for being here for 30 years. It’s a big blessing …” Cameron said. “I hope to be here for 30 more.”

Lisa Lewis, a regional coordinator for DaVita, said Cameron’s milestone was unusual.

“Normally, they last maybe five to seven years,” Lewis said. “That is the average lifespan of a dialysis patient, so I would say 30 years is five times that. It’s pretty important. It;s a pretty big thing.”

Wanda Hinnant of Goldsboro, who worked at DaVita for 38 years, remembers treating Cameron when he first came in three decades ago.

“I think he’s a wonderful person,” Hinnant said. “He has taken care of himself, followed the rules, and that’s why he’s still here.”

Dana Barberio, registered nurse and facility administrator, explained what dialysis does.

“Basically, it’s when their kidneys stop working and they have to come in here to dialysis. We basically filter their blood and remove the fluid and toxins in their blood and return clean blood to them, and we basically do what their kidneys would normally do.”

The cleansing sessions take from two to four and a half hours.

The patients get very familiar with the nurses and doctors.

“They are really our family,” Barberio said. “They really do become part of our family, and we care deeply about every one of our patients.”

Barberio said Cameron’s accomplishment is “absolutely amazing.”

“It is a miracle. We very rarely get to celebrate this type of milestone. This is a very rare occasion,” Barberio said. “It is just wonderful to know that a patient has taken care of himself and is able this good and is still able to be with us and dialyze with us after 30 years. It’s wonderful.”

Dr. Anwar Al-Haidary, attending nephrologist and the director for the dialysis unit, said in the past, dialysis got a bad reputation.

“Medicine has advanced and dialysis has advanced to the stage now that people can live a normal life, and they can live up to 30 or 40 years,” Al-Haidary said.

Sometimes people think dialysis is a bad idea, but that shouldn’t be the case anymore, Al Haidary said.

“As you can see, this is a good example,” he said. “People who take their medicines regularly, who follow up with dialysis, can live a normal, long life.”

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