Kidney Disease: What do you know about it?
My Story with Kidney Disease
Nearly 2 years ago, I received a phone call from my mother that I will never forget. She had been struggling with her health for a while at that point but doctors could never really figure out what was wrong. She had begun to lose all of her strength, couldn't walk without support, was in pain, and struggled to perform day to day tasks like doing the laundry, cooking, or cleaning the house.
This phone call started as any conversation with my mom normally would, but she then informed me that doctors had finally determined one of the causes of the many symptoms she had been suffering. She had been diagnosed with stage 5 kidney disease. One of her kidneys was completely non-functioning and the other was at 17% working capacity.
It was hard to hear because my first response was "what even does this mean?" I had never met anyone with kidney disease, had no idea even what a kidney does, and certainly wasn't sure what it meant for my mother moving forward. She then informed me that she would have to be put on a transplant list and would have to be hooked up to a dialysis machine every night for the rest of her life until she could get a transplant and even then, there was no guarantee that she wouldn't still have to use dialysis to clean her blood.
Pretty immediately, both of my sisters and I began a campaign to see if we could find someone to qualify to donate a kidney. All three of us submitted our blood for testing because we all have the same blood type (O+), but we were dealt a crushing blow when we were informed that although our blood types were in fact a match, that was only half of the equation. Our blood cell counts came back too high and if we were to donate a kidney to our mother, her body would likely reject the organ. Nearly a year later, we had hoped that someone would submit for testing and get confirmed as a match but unfortunately, we have had no luck.
In May of this year (2019), I was informed that there may be another way to donate a kidney to my mom; through the Kidney Donor Pairing Program. Essentially, although I could not donate my kidney directly to my mother, we as a pair, could be matched up with other pairs from around the country in similar situations, and we would create a "domino effect" by exchanging kidneys in as few as 4 ways, or as many as 14. The only problem....in order to qualify just to donate a kidney, you have to go through a 4 day grueling testing process. In May, I spent 4 days in Jacksonville, FL at the Mayo Clinic. Over the course of my time at Mayo, I had to have blood drawn numerous time, I had to have a variety of x-rays and scans, I had to drink an orange liquid and wait in a room for two hours to test my kidney function (I've since been told all pregnant woman also have to have this test done), and I had to meet with numerous medical officials to determine whether I was physically and mentally qualified to donate a kidney.
After about a week and much much prayer, we received the news that I was in fact healthy enough to donate and was approved by the kidney donor board to proceed with my mom through the Kidney Donor Pairing Program.
Although the process has been extended a few months because of some additional health issues for my mom, we are excited to proceed in the coming months through the process of getting the transplant underway. But I would not be justified if I didn't at least work to help educate the greater public on the impact kidney disease has on the lives of many Americans today. It is important to be educated on the risks and ways you can help prevent kidney disease in yourself or in the lives of your loved ones!
Here are some important facts about kidney disease, signs of kidney disease, and ways you can prevent kidney disease:
Facts about Kidney Disease:
1. Kidney Disease currently affects 37 million Americans
2. Kidneys are considered “vital organs” meaning, you need them to live. Your kidney’s filter waste and other fluids out of your blood to make urine.
3. Kidney disease is most often caused by diabetes or high blood pressure.
4. Having a family member with Kidney disease significantly increases your likelihood of contracting kidney disease as well.
5. African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and Asian Pacific Islanders have a higher risk of contracting kidney disease.
6. There is NO cure to kidney disease. The only way to prevent the likelihood of death is to start dialysis or acquire a kidney transplant.
7. Receiving a kidney transplant can actually increase your kidney production by greater than two working together.
Signs of Advanced Kidney Disease:
1. Itchy Skin (restless leg syndrome)
2. Muscle Cramps
4. Lack of hunger
5. Swelling in feet/angles
6. Too much or not enough urine production
7. Constantly out of breath
8. Trouble sleeping
Ways You Can prevent kidney disease:
1. Follow a low fat, low sodium (salt) diet
2. Set a goal to exercise for 30 min/day, 5 days/week
3. Have regular checkups with your doctor
4. Do not smoke or use tobacco
5. Limit Alcohol consumption
6. Maintain a healthy weight
S.K. Burt Law, P.A. is excited to partner with the American Kidney Fund (AKF) to raise funds for Kidney Donor Research. 97 cents of every $1 AKF raised goes directly to research and patient care. Would you consider joining us as we raise funds to help those in need? The medical expenses alone to live with kidney disease are astronomical and the road to a transplant, and the recovery after, can be just as challenging. For every donation of $20 or more, you can become a member of #TeamSKBurtLaw and receive one of our custom t-shirts! Join us as we fight for kidney disease.
 For more information on the impact kidney disease has on Americans and for more facts about this deadly disease, visit www.kidneyfund.org.