Chef Michael Bowling expects to have a new kidney by the end of the year. He knows the process, having previously had surgery for a kidney and pancreas transplant.
This time it’s different. This time the donor is his best friend.
Zoom out: Bowling owns Hot Box: Next Level Kitchen, and it is one of a group of chefs and restaurateurs who have helped make Charlotte a city known for its black culinary prowess. He co-founded Soul Food Sessions in 2017 in order to center black chefs.
- To note : This weekend, the seeds Bowling helped plant as part of Soul Food Sessions will become the first Bay Haven Food and Wine Festival, celebrating black culinary traditions.
But while the bowling Growing up as a professional, he also struggled with kidney disease, a struggle he only recently started talking about.
Pass: Bowling was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 15 and has since been cured following a pancreas transplant.
- He received his first kidney transplant, as well as the pancreas transplant, in 2007, two years after kidney failure.
- Eight years later, in 2015, the donor’s kidney failed.
He has spent the past six years undergoing several types of dialysis, often leaving his successful restaurant in the evenings to undergo hours of self-guided treatment.
When it comes time to have a transplant, the new kidney would come from someone who was not always around him.
Bowling and Angel Miguel Bonilla met in college when Bowling moved to Virginia, and their relationship didn’t start well.
- “A little girl came to me and told me he didn’t like black people,” Bowling told me. “I approached him about it.”
- Their seventh grade science teacher, Tom Fitzpatrick, who has been a longtime mentor and friend, made them clear.
- “We found we were more friends than foes, and we’ve been tied at the hip ever since,” Bowling said.
Bonilla, who still lives in Roanoke, Virginia, teaches college science and runs marathons.
- They plan a transplant operation during the winter break to avoid disrupting Bonilla’s school schedule.
- “He doesn’t want to run out of time with his students if possible,” Bowling said.
And after: Bowling plans to work until surgery, which comes with significant medical expenses and time off work to recuperate. Her friends help her raise funds:
Bowling aid, hosted by Chef Naomi Knox, is an overnight event to help offset Bowling expenses.
Details: November 8 at 5 p.m. at Free Range Brewing
- Tickets are $ 85
- 15 cooks will contribute to the classic culinary fall
- Additional funds will help form TRANSPLANT Aid, a non-profit organization that helps other families undergoing transplants.
Premium: A silent auction will include a dinner for two at Sante, treats from Jazina’s Creations, a Massage Envy gift card, a Garnet Gals jam basket and a ServeSafe Managers class for four.
The big picture: About 93,000 people are on the kidney transplant waiting list, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing.
- Four years is the average wait time for a kidney in the United States, sometimes longer.
- 5% kidney patients die every year while waiting for a kidney.
- The kidneys filter the blood through the body every 30 minutes, according to the CDC.
- Kidney transplant is often in response to failure, the result of chronic kidney disease (CKD), often seen in people with diabetes. Dialysis before a transplant becomes a means of survival for CRF patients.
The bottom line: Living with kidney disease is trying and scary, both physically and mentally.
“I fell into a deep depression” Bowling spoke of the first failure of his kidney in the 2000s.
- He sold his restaurant in Virginia and went into hiding at his home. His friends pulled him out of the dark days.
Things had to be different this time, he thought, and they were, with the help of many friends.
“This time, when it all started going south, I decided I wasn’t going to stop, ”Bowling said.