March is National Kidney Month and the second Thursday of every March is World Kidney Day.
So what is it about these bean-shaped organs that make them worthy of recognition?
- Thirty-one million American adults have chronic kidney disease (CKD) – and most don’t know it.
- Your kidneys do more than make urine. They remove wastes and extra fluid from your blood and help control your body's chemical balance and blood pressure, keep your bones healthy and make red blood cells.
- The damage to your kidneys from kidney disease is permanent and there is no cure for kidney disease. If your kidneys fail (commonly referred to as end-stage renal disease or ESRD) you cannot survive without dialysis or a kidney transplant.
- Kidney disease is the ninth leading cause of death in the US—killing more people than breast or prostate cancer. The two leading causes of kidney disease are diabetes and high-blood pressure.
- Kidney disease is simple to test for and can be effectively managed to prevent or slow the progression of the disease.
- Kidney disease is expensive. Total Medicare spending—excluding prescription drugs—for patients with kidney failure was nearly $29 billion in 2012 and accounted for about 6% of Medicare’s budget costs.
- Every day, 12 people die waiting for a kidney transplant. As of today at 2:06pm, 123,352 people are waiting for organs in the United States. Of these, almost 110,000 are waiting for kidneys. The average wait time for a kidney varies depending on, among other factors, where you live, your age, how sick you are, your co-morbidities, etc. I waited five years.
- March 13, 2000. I was 23-years-old full time college student, working part time with an afterschool literacy program in Albuquerque, NM, living with my sister, receiving three, three and a half-hour hemodialysis treatments every week, regularly requiring hospitalizations, surgeries and procedures to keep my dialysis accesses working, and wondering how and whether I was going to be able to make it much longer. That’s when I got the call I’d been waiting on for five years. They had a kidney for me.
My donor was in a fatal accident. Her parents made the gut-wrenching and selfless decision to donate her organs to people who would need them. They changed the course of my life forever.For all these reasons and more, I celebrate World Kidney Day and National Kidney Month. I hope you do too.