Flashpoint Extra: Rapper Freeway talks about recent kidney transplant for the first time

A story you'll hear first on KYW Newsradio

Flashpoint
October 03, 2019 - 4:00 am

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia rapper Freeway received a kidney transplant a few months back after enduring dialysis for several years. In an exclusive interview with KYW Newsradio, he discusses his journey and his newfound advocacy. 

"God is great. I feel amazing, I received a transplant Feb. 6 of this year," said Freeway.

The Philadelphia-bred rapper and hip-hop star returned to the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps on Wednesday, the place where the journey began — he first got sick when doing Made in America.

"Yes. It's amazing how this place is so symbolic to me," he said. 

Freeway, whose real name is Leslie Prigden, says illness first hit him in 2015 while on stage. He got through the performance but days later learned he had kidney failure. 

"Me being a celebrity and a star, I felt like I was invincible, and I never thought that anything like this would happen to me," he said, "but it did."

To doctors, it wasn't a surprise. After all, Freeway had three major risk factors for kidney failure: high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, and he's African American.

Instead of giving up or going into hiding, Freeway documented his struggles on social media. He told his story in an album titled "Free Will." 

Freeway changed his life by eating healthy and took dialysis three days a week. And he never stopped performing.

"I was blessed enough to catch a couple of the dates with the "On the Run II" tour," he said. "And every city I went to, I had to do dialysis and fly to the next city."

After three years of waiting for a new kidney, Freeway got the call in February. He traveled to Baltimore, where he underwent a kidney transplant at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. 

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He took a kidney with Hepatitis C, which shortened the wait that's on average about seven years. The disease was cured in days, and Freeway says he's doing just fine.

"I had an appointment last Tuesday and my doctor said everything is going great," he said. "I got energy now." 

He showed off on Wednesday by running up the Art Museum steps.

"Rocky," he yelled. "When I was on dialysis, there's no way I could have walked up here." 

On Oct. 13, he'll be on those stairs again to share his story at the National Kidney Foundation Kidney Walk. His goal, he says, is to save lives.

"I want everybody to know that just because you have an ailment or you have kidney failure, it's not a death sentence," he said.