This week marked the launch of 2016’s National Kidney Month and, this coming weekend, the Chronic Disease Coalition will be among exhibitors at the National Kidney Foundation’s annual Patient and Community Education Symposium in Portland, Oregon. The free event includes breakfast with experts, a panel discussion about treatment options and educational resources. It will take place at the atrium at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center on Sunday, March 6.
Kidney patients can mingle with other patients and health experts at the symposium. The keynote speaker will be John Fallgren, who received a kidney transplant from a living donor in 1989, received a second kidney transplant from a deceased donor in 1993 after months on hemodialysis and is now lead transplant coordinator at Legacy Transplant Services.
Though not often talked about, kidney disease is incredibly widespread. One in 10 U.S. adults has kidney disease, many of whom are undiagnosed. Kidney disease is the ninth leading cause of death in the United States. Here are some additional facts to keep in mind this National Kidney Month:
- An uncomfortable truth about kidney disease is that minority populations such as African-Americans and vulnerable communities such as senior citizens are more susceptible to kidney problems. The case in regard to African-American communities is particularly startling. Even though they make up only about 13 percent of the U.S. population, African-Americans represent a third of Americans with kidney failure.
- Obtaining a kidney transplant is one of two options available to people whose kidneys are failing. Today there are more than 100,000 people waiting for a kidney transplant in the United States, with a new person being added to that list every 14 seconds. About 17,000 transplant surgeries take place each year, and so the waiting list continues to grow, according to statistics from the National Kidney Foundation.
- Most of those waiting on a kidney transplant therefore require dialysis treatment, the second of the two treatment options. Dialysis is the process of removing waste and excess fluid from the blood when the kidneys can’t. For those awaiting a kidney transplant, dialysis is a regular part of life, often having to be performed three or more times a week. It is crucial for their survival.
And yet access to dialysis treatment is under threat for many kidney patients. Through discriminatory network and plan design, and bans on third-party premium assistance, insurers are limiting kidney patients’ abilities to get the care they need.
This March, the Chronic Disease Coalition urges citizens to reflect on the widespread impact of kidney disease in the United States, and the need to ensure those with kidney disease can access the care they need to live.