From Pain to Purpose

From Pain to Purpose

Gout patient takes control of his health; now helps others

When Alameda native Wilson Du went to the emergency room (ER) at age 34 with a severe gout flare-up, he expected to receive a shot of cortisone and be released shortly thereafter.

Instead, he got news that would alter the course of his life.

Some years prior, Wilson began experiencing gout flares, episodes of painful swelling of the joints that can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. He initially ignored these symptoms aside from occasionally taking over-the-counter pain medication.

But over time, the flares became more frequent, more serious and in more places around his body. Then they became debilitating to the point where he could barely move without pain. Wilson’s doctor attempted to treat his gout with a variety of medications, but his condition continued to progress.

His gout escalated until he was compelled to make that visit to the ER. There, Wilson was diagnosed with end-stage kidney failure. For someone like Wilson, this is not an uncommon development — it’s been shown that gout and kidney disease are closely linked. In fact, one in four adults with moderate-to-severe chronic kidney disease has gout. The news floored him.

Confined to a wheelchair, on dialysis with his blood pressure rising, Wilson says he contemplated stopping the treatment altogether. He understood that he was at a crossroads — accept current reality and abandon his goals or “fight like crazy” for the life he wanted.

Wilson chose to fight like crazy.

Beginning by walking just a few steps at a time, he eventually progressed to biking and running, shedding over 100 pounds along the way. Eventually, Wilson opened a gym, the Mission HQ here in Alameda, that focuses on helping people with chronic conditions, like kidney disease and gout, get in better shape.

He also teamed up with the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) to share his story and spread awareness of kidney disease and gout and to inspire others to take control of their health.

Amy Hewitt, the Executive Director of NKF serving California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, was present for one of these talks. She was so inspired by Wilson’s story that she got tested to donate and ultimately donated a kidney as part of a four-way paired exchange that allowed Wilson to receive a transplant after nearly five and half years on dialysis. Since the transplant in March 2022, Wilson has shared his message widely. His latest event was close to home.

Wilson was recently present in San Francisco for an educational event and park clean-up as part of Horizon Therapeutics’ “Weed it G’out” campaign for Gout Awareness Day on May 22, which seeks to illustrate the connection between gout, kidneys, and patients’ health through the analogy of gardening.

Wilson’s story is far from over. His passion for patient advocacy continues to motivate and inspire all those he encounters.

“My story shows that if you want to get better, it’s important to talk to a doctor early about what you’re experiencing. To provide that message of hope to people who are in a position I used to be in, I feel like this is my calling,” said Wilson.

To learn more about gout, find a gout specialist, and hear more stories like Wilson’s, visit www.GoutRevealed.com.

To learn more about becoming a living donor, visit https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/living-donation.

Horizon Therapeutics is a biopharmaceutical company focused on researching, developing, and commercializing medicines that address critical needs for people impacted by rare and rheumatic diseases.