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Vidant Health celebrates World Kidney Day, offers free screening

March 09, 2016 posted by Amy Holcombe

GREENVILLE- Goldsboro native, Lakesha McPherson did not hesitate to donate a kidney to her then 3-year-old daughter, Kasual. Diagnosed with stage five renal failure at just a year old, Kasual’s only chance of survival was a transplant. Now 17, she’s spent her entire life in and out of the hospital. Her story is just one of thousands; ten percent of the worldwide population suffers from kidney disease.

March 10 marks World Kidney Day, a global campaign aimed at raising awareness of the importance of our kidneys. The light tower at the James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital at Vidant Medical Center will change color from blue to lime green in recognition of World Kidney Day at 6:30 p.m. 

Changing the light tower is a both a symbolic gesture and a conversation starter to raise awareness about the risks, dangers and burden of kidney disease. “It makes me feel like I am not alone in this fight,” Kasual said. “Seeing the lights change makes me feel supported and lets me know there are others experiencing the same thing.” 

Chronic kidney disease (CKD), which is predicted to increase by 17 percent over the next decade, is now recognized by World Health Organization and other groups as a global public health issue. The trend is specifically true in North Carolina as the number of people diagnosed with kidney disease has continued to increase since 2010. 

“The rate of chronic kidney disease in eastern North Carolina is higher than in much of the state,” said Dr. Cynthia Christiano, division chief for nephrology and hypertension at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. She added that minority populations, including African-Americans, “are known to suffer from higher rates of diabetes and high blood pressure which are both leading causes for CKD. These populations are therefore at higher risk of developing severe renal disease and ultimately kidney failure.”

Kidney disease also affects children, and is prevalent in eastern North Carolina. In pediatric cases the causes of end stage renal disease are different than in adults. “Congenital renal anomalies are the leading cause of kidney disease in children,” said Dr. Guillermo Hidalgo, section head for pediatric nephrology and director of pediatric transplant at Brody. He explained that other causes can also include infection, nephrotic syndrome, systemic diseases, trauma, and urine blockage or reflux.

The McPherson family didn’t know the severity of kidney disease or the amount of people it affects, before they were faced with it head on. “We want people to know the warning signs,” Lakesha McPherson said. “We want folks to advocate for their health and educate themselves about this disease.” 

The aim of celebrating World Kidney Day is to raise awareness of the importance of our kidneys to our overall health and to reduce the frequency and impact of kidney disease and its associated health problems worldwide.

As part of World Kidney Day recognition, Vidant Health is offering a free kidney screening, giving people the opportunity to learn more about their health and follow up for additional care if needed.

The event will take place on March 22 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Winterville Community Center, located at 2593 Railroad St. Those interested in the screening may make an appointment by calling Chesna McNeil at (252) 847-4621, or walk in on the day of the screening. 
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