Impacting lives

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Dr. Michael Kraus’ commitment to bettering lives leads to Sagamore of the Wabash award

By Beth Taylor

The annual Celebrating Life Under the Stars Gala to benefit the National Kidney Foundation of Indiana honored Fishers resident Dr. Michael Kraus for his achievements in nephrology. While at the gala, he was surprised to learn that he was also receiving a Sagamore of the Wabash award.

“The Sagamore of the Wabash award means a great deal to me because it is for things I’ve done to help take care of patients,” said Kraus. “I think the work that I’ve done for patients on home dialysis caught the attention of the governor.”

The Sagamore of the Wabash is a civilian honor presented by the governor of Indiana. It is a tribute given to those who have provided distinguished service to the state. State lawmakers can nominate two candidates each year. Dr. Kraus was nominated by State Sen. Jean Breaux, who is a past board member of the National Kidney Foundation of Indiana. She presented the award to Dr. Kraus on behalf of Gov. Mike Pence.

Kraus’ long career began with an early realization that he wanted to be a doctor. Focusing on nephrology, the medical specialty that focuses on kidney function, appealed to Kraus because he could impact acute conditions and take care of patients for a prolonged period of time.

The desire to make his patients’ lives better is what led to Kraus becoming an advocate for home hemodialysis. In 2004, he was the chief investigator and performed the original study to get the NxStage System One device approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

“Dr. Kraus’ early and ongoing support of home hemodialysis has helped ensure that an ever-increasing number of patients can access its life-changing benefits,” said Joseph Turk, president of NxStage. “Today, the NxStage System One is the only portable home hemodialysis system approved by the FDA and we are indebted to Dr. Kraus for his support in helping us pioneer this therapy, including his important work in our initial FDA clinical study. We are thrilled to congratulate him on all of his recognition and to thank him for his commitment to improving the standard of patient care.”

The device weighs about 75 pounds, allowing for patients who were spending much time in a dialysis clinic to now self-treat at home or even on vacation. “They’re able to enjoy life again instead of going from one dialysis appointment to the next,” Kraus said.

Kraus looks forward to what is ahead in the field of nephrology. “We’re beginning to see smaller devices, transplanting animal kidneys into patients and taking stem cells to make organs,” he said. “We’re at the beginning of the technology when you think about growing kidneys in Petri dishes. Big things are coming. It’s not science fiction anymore.”

Dr. Kraus enjoys traveling nationally and abroad to speak on home dialysis. “Home dialysis is my passion and nephrologists need to be educated on devices we have today,” said Kraus.

“Currently about nine out of 10 patients go into a dialysis center, but if you asked 100 nephrologists, 100 percent would want to do home dialysis for themselves. We have to change the thinking so that they want to do that for their patients,” said Kraus.

Molly Kraus, his wife of 31 years, enjoyed seeing her husband accepting recognition for his work.

“Michael rarely takes compliments or the admiration that he’s been getting.” She said. “When the National Kidney Foundation said that they were going to honor him, he tried to pass off the honor and downplay his accomplishments.”

The Krauses have four adult children. “Our children are very proud of their father’s accomplishments,” she said. “Because of Mike’s commitment to bettering his patients’ lives, all four of our children give back in some way.”

Kraus thinks that his greatest achievement in medicine is that he worked every day to make his patients’ lives better.

Sagamore of the Wabash

  • “Sagamore” was a term used by Algonquian-speaking Native American tribes of Indiana to describe a lesser chief or a great man among the tribe whom the chief consulted for wisdom and advice.
  • State lawmakers can nominate two candidates per year. Only the governor of Indiana makes the selection.
  • No official record exists on how many Sagamore awards have been presented.
  • Recipients include astronauts, artists and politicians.

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