Kidney disease is common but often invisible
Article and Images Submitted by the Kidney Foundation of Western New York
March is National Kidney Month, and health advocates are calling attention to the prevalence of kidney disease. Local organizations are also raising awareness of the need for organ donors.
The Kidney Foundation of Western New York is highlighting the stories of people waiting for transplants, including Diana Leising of Sanborn. Leising’s kidney function has been declining and she’s seeking a transplant through Erie County Medical Center. Her husband, Dan, had hoped to become a living kidney donor, but the family learned in November that would not be possible.
“I don’t want much, just to watch my youngest graduate from high school and see my boys get married and have their children,” Leising posted through the Kidney Connection, a local nonprofit. People awaiting a transplant can share their need at kidneyconnection.org, in hopes of finding someone to give a kidney. Leising added, “I put it in God’s hands and pray that I get a gracious donor.”
More than one in eight Western New York adults has been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease. Undiagnosed kidney problems are also common. A person can lose as much as 90% of kidney function before noticing symptoms. The leading causes of chronic kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure. People with heart disease and those with a family history of kidney failure are also at higher risk.
For those who reach kidney failure, dialysis or a transplant are the only ways to stay alive. The kidney is the most needed organ for transplantation. People with kidney failure can receive transplanted organ from a deceased donor or from a living donor.
More than 80 people are on the active kidney transplant waiting list at Erie County Medical Center. Statewide, more than 7,200 people need a kidney. Nationally, the number is above 90,000. More than 12,500 have been waiting for more than five years to receive a lifesaving transplant.
This March, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases is encouraging everyone to build a personalized path to better kidney care through these steps:
√ Be an active participant in your care: Work with your health care team to create a treatment plan that fits your lifestyle, mobility, health status and dietary needs.
√ Follow your care plan: Take medicine as prescribed and stay up to date on vaccines. The coronavirus and flu vaccines are especially important for people with kidney disease, who may be more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 or the flu.
√ Build a kidney healthy lifestyle: Try to incorporate healthy habits into your daily schedule. This can include healthy foods and beverages you enjoy, physical activity like walking or taking the stairs to help you stay active and manage your weight, or a sleep routine that helps you get enough rest.
Thursday, March 10, is World Kidney Day. Niagara Falls will be lit up in yellow and blue for 15 minutes starting at 10 p.m. that evening to raise awareness about kidney health. Anyone wishing to observe the falls from the park must follow public health guidelines.
More information is available at kfwny.org, the Kidney Foundation of Western New York’s social media, or by calling 716-529-4390. The foundation thanks the Niagara Falls Illumination Board and other community partners for helping to raise awareness about kidney health.
The Kidney Foundation of Western New York works to increase awareness of kidney disease, provide education on kidney health, and support patients and their families. The locally based non-profit serves Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming counties.
For more information on National Kidney Month, visit https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/community-health-outreach/national-kidney-month.