— Fashion Designer
Hi, my name is Elijah Julian.
I’m a 22-year-old entrepreneur born and raised in South Florida. I am the founder and CEO of Brand Julian, a collective group of companies all founded and created by me.
At 12 years old in 2007, I was diagnosed with a condition called Lupus. Since then, I’ve experienced my fair share of health issues. Only a year after my diagnosis I was already receiving numerous, weekly chemotherapy treatments to lower my immune system in order to treat the Lupus. In August of 2009, I should’ve been eagerly awaiting my first day of high school like any normal teenager. Instead, I was fighting for my life in an emergency open heart surgery. My condition progressed to Class IV Lupus Nephritis, and by this time the medications I was on were causing adverse effects, such as glaucoma and cataracts.
Just when I thought things were reaching a plateau in my life, I was forced to drop out of school my sophomore year to avoid constant sickness and infections. But I didn’t let that stop me. I continued to study and became one of the youngest people to pass the GED test. Upon completion, I found a creative outlet in designing clothes. I applied all of my energy towards my designs, and that’s how my first company was born. I co-founded a ready-to-wear clothing line called SAFii in 2011, and have continued to grow my brand ever since.
The founding of SAFii made New York a second home for me and opened endless possibilities for my career. On one of my many trips, I came in contact with GOOD Music’s Malik Yusef. He took me under his wing, offering me an internship where I had the opportunity to work for him and Kanye West. Battling health and work, Malik and the GOOD Music Family became mentors, brothers, and a guiding light in the darkest of times.
Hospitalization after hospitalization, my life felt like a vicious cycle of tests, operations, and chemotherapy. In June 2014 we received the inevitable news that we kept trying to postpone with dozens of pills, medicines, and prayers. My kidneys had failed. I was being placed on dialysis permanently until I was able to receive a kidney transplant. Dialysis is when you’re hooked up to a machine via either a catheter or fistula for 3-4 hours, 3 times a week, and your blood is filtered through hypothetically an artificial kidney. After treatment, you feel physically and literally drained, fatigued and have a loss of appetite. You’re on a strict diet of low potassium, phosphorus, and sodium, as well as minimal fluid intake since your kidneys, do not filter as usual leading to minimal to no urine output.
For 8 months it felt like something I’ve been through before, so I kept my head high and pushed on through all the adversities I was faced with. Thankfully, I received the news that my dad was a half match for my kidney and within a month we had the surgery. On February 26, 2015, I was given my dad’s kidney. Things all went according to plan until I was faced with a few episodes of rejection. My antibodies weren’t reacting well to my dad’s transplanted kidney. For nearly 2 years we battled with anti-rejection medications, more chemotherapy, and various treatments in an effort to keep the kidney, but in January 2017 it was considered fully rejected. Living in LA at the time I was placed back on dialysis and began the cycle all over again.
I returned back to Florida shortly after rejecting the transplant. I was hospitalized as soon as I landed and remained hospitalized nearly every other week for 1-2 weeks at a time. I lost nearly 30-35 pounds within a weeks time due to dialysis. After 4 months the doctors finally decided to remove the transplanted kidney. Since June of 2017, I’ve remained stable for the most part, and have regained normal strength despite being on dialysis. I write this to give you my life, give you my story and maybe you’ll feel it in your heart to make a difference in someone’s life. I need an A+ blood type kidney but there is the national kidney exchange that allows for other blood types to work.
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