North Rockland native raises awareness of kidney disease in Rockland County

Photo of Nicole Faleri

North Rockland native, Nicole Faleri, is working to make her fellow Rocklanders more aware of the hazards of Kidney disease. Herself a Kidney patient, Faleri first got diagnosed with the condition on Easter Sunday, three years ago in 2019. Coincidently, before she experienced symptoms on that day, her sister, Lauren,  also complained of not feeling well, suffering from an abrupt bout of dizziness. As Faleri noticed her sister’s condition, it occurred to her to take her own blood pressure as she quickly began to mirror the same complaints. Faleri became concerned as she noticed that the more she took her blood pressure, the higher it rose. 

Faleri ended up calling her doctor on call at around 8:00 PM on that same day. Dr. Daniel Cohen was the one to answer right away to help address her concerns and confirm that her blood pressure wasn’t normal. Cohen immediately sent her to a professional, PM Pediatrics in Spring Valley. Shortly after her visit that night, they then urged her to take an ambulance to the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital right away.

When Faleri arrived at the emergency room, the ER doctor said they were unsure of what was wrong with her, and ordered an ultrasound. Despite the constraints of the pandemic, Dr. Cohen was able to arrange the test and get some answers. 

Eager to know what was happening, she spent thirty minutes receiving an ultrasound. Unfortunately, it was at that moment that Faleri discovered she was in stage four chronic kidney failure. Additionally, she was told that there was a very high chance she wouldn’t make it. Faleri’s mother, Carol Faleri, was by her side the whole time that night along with the art and music therapists. Faleri recollects listening to the song “Rainbow” by Kacey Musgraves, which gave her the hope she needed. Despite what doctors said to her, that her fight wasn’t over. 

Due to years of undiagnosed blood pressure issues, Faleri had developed a heart problem. Thankfully, her diagnosis on Easter Sunday has saved her life. “What I want to raise awareness for the most is that we don’t perform that type of blood test on people when they go for routine blood work,” said Faleri. “You have to advocate for yourself and know what to look for and ask for.” Faleri urges anyone to get their blood tested for kidney disease, even if they do not show symptoms. “

The day after the hospital, Faleri and her mother Carol felt very panicked and did not give up on finding the right doctor. Carol first called Rockland Renal Associates in West Nyack when one of the receptionists, Marilyn Ferrier, picked up. 

Marilyn said that she could hear the desperation in Faleri’s mother’s voice, and, right off the bat, knew who she needed to see. “We try to help everybody as they come in, you know? Everybody has a different situation, and I was glad to be here at that time when her mom called in to schedule an appointment. Dr. Kozin is the best, so I scheduled her with Dr. Kozin.” That’s when Faleri met Dr. Arthur Kozin, whom she credits for helping save her life.

 “Dr. Kozin went above and beyond for me,” said Faleri. Kozin told Faleri not to give up her fight. “I don’t know what they told you in that hospital, but you are not going to die.” said Kozin to Faleri. 

“If it weren’t for Daniel Cohen and Arthur Kozin, I wouldn’t be alive,” said Faleri. 

Additionally, Faleri commemorates Jennifer Harrington, a teacher from Fieldstone Middle School, Sean McHugh, a North Rockland High School (NRHS) teacher, and Tommy Nelson, a mentor and colleague from NRHS, for supporting her during her hard fight with kidney disease. Faleri’s passion for teaching is one of her positive outlets in life. She also credits her students for being supportive, even though they might not know what happens behind closed doors. “They’re such supportive, kind-hearted, generous people and I’ve been blessed with the best students. It’s as if they’ve all been placed in my class,” said Faleri.

Faleri hopes to bring awareness to kidney disease in a way where others see her as herself and not the disease itself. Faleri praises the Rockland community for staying so unified, especially during rough times for residents. “We cry for help, and the community answers – that’s what I think is great about where we live, and that’s why I never want to leave North Rockland. There is no place like home, and home for me is NR,” said Faleri. 

“When the day comes, and I’m told that I will need a kidney, I know that my community will help me get that kidney. There’s nobody like where we live, and people need to open their eyes and be more grateful for that.” Faleri expressed. 

To learn more and donate to NephCure Kidney International’s charity organization, you may visit: https://nephcure.org.