After a major health scare last year, a popular Philly hip hop artist is trying to raise awareness about kidney disease. While performing for thousands at the Made in America festival last year, Leslie Edward Pridgen, better known as Freeway, recalled how something wasn’t right.
“I just was feeling real fatigued and tired and sluggish,” he said.
He went to the doctor’s office. They ran a bunch of tests, and then told him to go to the hospital immediately. He had kidney failure.
“They [the doctors] were calling me the lucky star, they couldn’t believe I walked in on my own. That’s how bad I was,” he said.
Looking back, Freeway realized he missed some major red flags.
“I didn’t even know I was walking around with, actually, three risk factors: one is I’m African-American, two is I have diabetes, and three is I have high blood pressure. So that’s three of the leading risk factors for kidney failure. And a lot of people don’t know that.”
Freeway, who’s 38 years old, says the diagnosis was a wake-up call. He had to change his diet and has been going to dialysis three times a week for four hours each session.
He’s now trying to use his experience to educate others about kidney disease and the importance of paying attention to one’s health.
“I wasn’t really taking the time out to take care of myself properly and keep up with the doctors like I should have. But hopefully by me raising awareness I can help more people,” he said. “So I’m encouraging everybody to keep up with their routine physicals, and to be aware of the risk factors.”
He’s involved in advocacy efforts, and just finished shooting a documentary about managing his health this past year. The experience is also influencing his music.
Freeway says he’s doing well these days. He just performed at the Made in America Festival. He’s also keeping his phone close by, in case a kidney becomes available for a transplant.
“So I feel good,” he said. “I feel good about life.”