Although Robin Robinson from Grand Rapids is only 52, she has experienced more medical drama than most women her age, including a heart attack in her 20s that left her with no kidney function. “No one explained dialysis and I did not understand anything. I thought dialysis was temporary,” remembers Robin. Two failed kidney transplants and 27 years of dialysis still has not dampened her spirit. Despite hardships, she has raised two successful daughters and is currently an honors student studying for a college degree. Her dream is to open a nonprofit drop-in childcare center for parents who need to run errands or just de-stress.

In June 2021, the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan awarded Robin the Richard D. Swartz/Maurie Ferriter Scholarship and the Mary Brennan Award. The Swartz/Ferriter Scholarship assists individuals on dialysis or who have received a kidney transplant, to achieve their higher education goals. The Mary Brennan Award, established to honor live kidney donor Mary Brennan, is available as an additional award to scholarship recipients who are on dialysis and in financial need.

“Because of the NKFM, I’m going back to school — I love learning and I’m so grateful,” Robin says with a grin. “I just paid off my other student loan right before the pandemic. I didn’t have to take out another loan. I didn’t have to worry about how to pay a loan back. Being out of debt is a whole different feeling. I even started a savings account.”

In addition to school, Robin spends time with her grandchildren. She especially cherishes her relationship with her 18 year old granddaughter. “We’re best friends. We talk and text all the time,” she explains. “I have to thank dialysis for that. If I wasn’t on dialysis, I wouldn’t have had the time to do all that. I look at what dialysis has done for me and not what dialysis has kept me from doing.”

Robin, her family, and many of their friends have done the Chicago Kidney Walk every year since 2002. She’s excited about doing the next Grand Rapids Kidney Walk, sharing that they plan to get t-shirts or wear funny hats. “The Kidney Walk shows me that I can enjoy life, that I can still walk, I can still talk, I can still run, I can still dance. I think about all the things that I can still do.”

“Just because I have kidney failure doesn’t mean that I don’t have a plan for my life. I still want to do great things. I still want to affect people in a positive way. I want to be someone that my grandchildren look up to,” concludes Robin.

If you are on dialysis or have had a kidney transplant, you may be eligible to receive an NKFM scholarship.


Robin Robinson