43 years old - Baton Rouge, La. - Featured on March 30, 2010
Soldier Inspires Others One Step at a Time
Fresenius Medical Care patient Charlisa Holmes (left) with a soldier who is wearing one of her knitted helmet liners.
In 2004, Charlisa Holmes was waiting to be deployed for her first tour in Afghanistan with the Army National Guard when her health began to decline sharply. Getting sick was a big surprise for Charlisa, a 43 year-old who was a first lieutenant in the Army National Guard and ran five miles a week. But she soon learned she had polycystic kidney disease and would have to start dialysis. Today, Charlisa receives in-center hemodialysis at Fresenius Medical Care Picardy.
With the help of her dog Samile, Charlisa has worked hard to get healthy again. She started off just walking down her driveway, then around the block, and today is running a few miles a week. Charlisa believes that maintaining an active lifestyle and educating yourself about kidney disease are two of the most important things dialysis patients can do. Charlisa is on the Fresenius Medical Care patient advisory board and is also a board member of the National Kidney Foundation of Louisiana, where she heads the volunteer membership for the Baton Rouge Kidney Walk.
When she started dialysis, Charlisa had a desire to continue to serve her country. She began a care package program with local companies to help send soldiers stationed overseas items they needed, or things that reminded them of home. Today, her program sends hundreds of care packages a year. Charlisa also works as a personal caretaker for a child who is blind, and knits baby clothes while receiving her dialysis treatment.
Charlisa believes in living life to the fullest. She encourages her fellow patients to realize that dialysis doesn’t have to define who they are, and to continue doing the things they love — even if it means taking it step-by-step.