I’m lovin’ all the build-up to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Like many of you, I’ll be filling out my brackets and talking a little smack to my fellow pool participants. There will be some tough choices – in the past I’ve even made the difficult choice of picking the Gators. It goes against my entire being to cheer for them. Before you even start, I’m fully aware that my beloved Noles have a little trouble making it to the dance–I pout about this each season.
March has become synonymous with a full-scale national shutdown of productivity for 2 & ½ weeks. I’m sure I can’t be the only one who is a bit amused by this article – Feds: Put That NCAA Bracket Away and Get Back to Work – which emphasizes the prohibition of “federal workers from engaging in any gambling while on federally owned or leased property, or while on duty.” Nice attempt to try and instill productivity amongst the ranks; let me know how that works out for you.
What many may not know is that March is also National Kidney Month. According for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 10 American adults, more than 20 million, have some level of chronic kidney disease (CKD) (http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/pdf/kidney_factsheet.pdf accessed March 20, 2014).
Kidney disease affects all age groups. However, there is cause for concern for those of us sitting in the middle-aged cheap seats. According to the National Institutes of Health, CKD is increasing the fastest for people age 60 and older. For example, CKD in people over 60 years old has jumped from 18.8% to 24.5% for the timeframe of 2003 to 2006 (National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC) accessed here on 3/20/14 http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/kustats/). During this same time period, the prevalence of CKD for people ages 20 to 39 remained below 0.5%.
The National Kidney Disease Education Program has many resources available to help you understand and prevent kidney disease. Their online resource Questions and Answers About the Kidneys and Kidney Disease provides exceptional information and answers to questions such as: What Is Kidney Disease? Are You At Risk For Kidney Disease? How Can I Protect My Kidneys?
I’ve seen up close and personal how kidney disease and its consequences affect lives. My father-in-law suffered from end-stage renal disease; he was a dialysis patient over his last few years with us. Additionally, one of my dearest friends suffers from a rare form of kidney disease. I was honored to chronicle her story, and the story of her brave family, in this article for Laker Magazine: “Unbreakable Bonds” Jane’s story, and the story of her son, highlight our enormous need for living donors. According to the Living Kidney Donors Network there are over 80,000 people currently on the kidney transplant waiting list and 4,500 people die each year awaiting a kidney transplant.
As you’re watching the upcoming games and crying over your picks as your brackets crumble (I am sure I will be right there with you), please remember that March is also a month set aside to help raise awareness about kidney health, disease prevention, and living donor needs and opportunities. Please help spread the word; Donate Life.
Have you had experience with kidney disease? What would you tell someone who asks “what can I do to help?”