By Representative LaKeshia N. Myers
Did you know March is National Kidney Month? Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is a serious condition that affect more than thirty million adults in the United States. According to the National Kidney Foundation, Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) means your kidneys are damaged and can’t filter blood the way they should. The disease is called “chronic” because the damage to your kidneys happens slowly over a long period of time. This damage can cause waste to build up in your body.
The kidneys’ main job is to filter extra water and wastes out of your blood to make urine. To keep your body working properly, the kidneys balance the salts and minerals—such as calcium, phosphorus, sodium, and potassium—that circulate in the blood. Your kidneys also make hormones that help control blood pressure, make red blood cells, and keep your bones strong.
Individuals who have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or have a family history of kidney-related illness are at a higher risk of having CKD. This is often accompanied by symptoms such as swelling, chest pain, shortness of breath, dry skin, fatigue, and extreme weight loss. If you have experienced any of these symptoms please contact your doctor and ask to be tested for kidney disease.
When your kidneys fail to function properly, it is called End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). The only medical interventions available to aid a person with End Stage Renal Disease are kidney dialysis and kidney transplantation.
Dialysis cleans waste products from the blood, removes extra fluid, and controls the body’s chemistry in place of the kidneys. While a patient can live a very normal life for many years while on dialysis treatment, the best alternative is for a patient to undergo a kidney transplant.
In Wisconsin, we have three kidney transplant hospital centers: Froedtert Hospital, Aurora St. Luke’s Hospital, and the University of Wisconsin Hospital (Madison).
While we have the hospitals available for transplantation, there is a shortage of willing kidney donors. One can choose to become a living donor—you donate one of your kidneys to a person in need or you can designate that you would like to be a deceased donor to donate your organs upon your death.
I am hoping that during the month of March, all Wisconsinites talk with family and friends about kidney health and organ donation, together, we can help save more lives.
For more information regarding organ donation, contact Donate Life Wisconsin. Your gift of organ donation will help save the life of someone in need.