Kidney Disease in The News
From the White House to Stevie Wonder, the subject of kidney disease is in today’s news.
And with good reason as approximately 37 million Americans suffer from chronic kidney disease and more than 726,000 have end-stage renal disease. While the number of people added to the national kidney transplant waiting list increases each year, the number of available donors remains inconsistent, with the average wait time being between 5-7 years. And, kidney disease now ranks as the 9th leading cause of death in the United States.
Recently, Melania Trump was hospitalized for treatment of a benign kidney condition and during a sold out concert in London’s Hyde Park, Stevie Wonder, generally ebullient, donned a somber expression as he announced that he would be undergoing a kidney transplant in the Fall. Well known for “You Are the Sunshine of my Life”, most do not have the good fortune of receiving a kidney transplant in a timely fashion and by some estimates, 96% of the population with kidney damage or reduced kidney function don’t know they have a problem, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
When patients do not realize they are ill until it gets to a critical stage, they can’t take preventive steps, and often need dialysis or a transplant. Of the 100,000 Americans who start dialysis each year, there is a 77% survival rate after one year; at 5 years, it drops to 28% and just 10% of patients survive after 10 years on dialysis.
White House Executive Order on Advancing Kidney Health
On July 10, 2018, President Trump issued an Executive Order on Advancing American Kidney Health to transform kidney care and increase transplant availability.
Prevention and Detection
The first goal of the executive order is to improve detection, diagnosis and treatment, through a public awareness campaign to prevent patients from going into kidney failure. Kidney failure has been increasing in the United States at a rate of 8% per year, with obesity as a known risk factor, along with family history, high blood pressure and diabetes. The goal of the Executive Order is to reduce the number of end-stage renal disease patients by 25% by 2030.
More Treatment Options Including Wearable Artificial Kidneys
The second goal is to increase access to affordable options for patients with end-stage renal disease. This includes providing a new Medicare payment structure that would encourage more in-home care, rather than treatment at dialysis centers. Patients in a center-based treatment spend about 12 hours a week there, making it difficult to keep a regular job. Studies have shown in-home treatment improves quality of life. The administration, along with the National Kidney Foundation, is encouraging the development of wearable artificial kidneys as an alternative to dialysis.
An Improved Transplant Pipeline
Lastly, the order creates new payment models as an incentive for treatment centers to modernize the organ transplant system and to improve support for living kidney donors, incl. covering costs for childcare and lost wages for living donors.
Currently, experts say there are some barriers for living donors that include the possibility of losing their life insurance if they donate or face higher insurance rates. Thus, there is a pending bill in Congress that would prohibit the denial of coverage or increased premiums when someone becomes a living donor.
Going Beyond, Making a Difference, Saving a Life
In addition to the attention of the Dept of Health and Human Services, advances in the field of regenerative medicine, and the development of novel kidney disease diagnostics in private industry, one cannot underestimate the value of a community-based approach to foster live kidney donations.
One such organization is RENEWAL, a Brooklyn based organization partnered with leading medical centers, whose mission is to match a patient with a suitable donor as quickly as possible.
RENEWAL is solely funded by donations and services are free of charge to anyone in need.
RENEWAL recently reached a milestone of facilitating 500 Kidney donations and is actively involved in educational events for the public.
A RENEWAL event was recently organized by Tomato Diane DiResta who is pursuing a kidney donation for her husband. The search continues while Diane’s appreciation for the support of friends remains strong and she is grateful for the opportunity to share her experience and growing knowledge on the topic with others.
RENEWAL,Brooklyn, NY. Founded in 2006, Renewal is dedicated to assisting people suffering from chronic kidney disease. Renewal facilitates and coordinates live donor kidney transplants while providing guidance and support to patients and their families. 718.431.9831