He already had diabetes and high blood pressure, but when Ottawa resident David Presley visited the doctor in Nov. 2007, he was in no way prepared for the diagnosis.
Then 63, Presley was told that he had end-stage renal failure. He was put on hemodialysis and on a transplant list right away.
"I was feeling tired, but I had no symptoms at all," he said. He later switched to continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis, which, in combination with a controlled diet, allows him to lead a relatively normal life.
This March, Presley -- who is sharing his story to raise awareness of kidney diseases during Kidney Health Month -- said the problem with kidney failure is that it is often asymptomatic.
"Not a lot of people know about kidney disease," said Presley. "People think about heart disease and cancer, but not kidney disease.
"I'm trying to raise awareness."
There are more than 600 patients on dialysis at the Ottawa Hospital. In Canada, there are more than 3,000 people waiting for a kidney transplant, which accounts for more than 70 per cent of transplants done. The average wait time is between four and five years.
These days, he keeps active, volunteering with the Kidney Foundation of Canada. He also started organ donor awareness day at SuperEx and on April 20, will be running the Living Green Ribbon Event at city hall to raise awareness of organ donation.
He's kept a positive attitude since his diagnosis.
"I knew what I had to do," he said. "I thought, 'I'm going to survive.'"