On January 22, 2017, our esteemed Co-Founder, Jared J. Grantham, M.D., passed away. In the year since his passing, we have done our best to honor his legacy of dedication to advancing PKD research and supporting patients. As tribute to his memory, our very own Nicole Harr, Director of Patient & Community Engagement, has written a touching post we would like to share with you today:
A year ago, the PKD community lost a world-renowned PKD researcher and patient advocate, Dr. Jared Grantham. I met Dr. Grantham in 2001. He took me on a tour of the Kidney Institute at the University of Kansas Hospital and chatted with me and my husband about The Consortium for Radiologic Imaging Studies of Polycystic Kidney Disease (CRISP). I remember being very nervous and wondering what I was getting myself into. The idea of participating in a clinical study was new to me. I had not yet adjusted to my recent diagnosis of PKD and I am sure we had many questions. Dr. Grantham was calm, charming and put me at ease. He told me about the study and explained how important the results of this study would be to future clinical trials. Little did I know how many opportunities I would have to chat with this brilliant man and how much of an impact he would have on me, my family and my future volunteer role with the PKD Foundation. On that day, I made the decision to participate in the trial and began a relationship that I will treasure for the rest of my life.
Many “new” things were happening for me around that time, and next up was becoming a volunteer for the PKD Foundation. I needed to figure out a way to do my part to help find treatments and I wanted to learn everything I could learn about PKD. Enter Dr. Grantham! He graciously agreed to help organize our first Chapter educational seminar. With help from his colleagues at the Kidney Institute, we provided Chapter members with a fantastic day of learning, courtesy, in great part, to Dr. Grantham.
From that first weekend forward, Dr. Grantham attended many Chapter events and became a fixture at our annual Kansas City Walk for PKD. Each year in September, he joined the Walk team and showed up at the event to meet and greet our Walk participants. He made his way to the researcher tent and spent the morning answering question after question, making sure that everyone had the opportunity to learn more about current PKD research and managing PKD. On occasion, he even signed and shared his books with Walk participants. I will always treasure the way he smiled as he made his way across the Avila University yard and prepared to spend his morning supporting patients and families.
I have heard Dr. Grantham share his first encounter with PKD through his friendship with Ronnie Wilkerson when they were young boys trading comic books on the kitchen floor. No matter how many times I hear the story, I experience chills and I wipe a few tears from my eyes. The series of events that led Dr. Grantham into the field of PKD is a story that so many know by heart and will share with generations to come. Dr. Jared Grantham will live on through the stories he shared, his brilliant work and in the memories of everyone he touched during his life.
During that first study appointment with Dr. Grantham, he told me that I did not need to worry; that I would spend many years with my grandchildren. With a kidney transplant from a living donor in my near future, I intend to fulfill that prediction. I also aspire to celebrate every moment knowing that his work inspired many brilliant doctors and scientists to follow in his footsteps, and because they did, we all sleep a little better knowing that the future will continue to bring breakthroughs in PKD research.
Dr. Grantham was a hero to the PKD community, and you can be, too. Become a Hero For Hope today and your monthly donations will honor Dr. Grantham’s legacy by directly funding critical PKD research.