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Encountering the silent killer: Are you at risk of kidney disease?

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Vancouver – In 2011, after several frustrating years of mysterious health problems, 26-year-old Kate Huffman started having fainting spells.

She checked herself into hospital and after a series of tests was told her kidneys were failing due to a disorder called Berger’s syndrome. She was expected to start dialysis immediately and was encouraged to look for a living kidney donor.

Fortunately, Kate received the right care at the right time and has so far been able to avoid dialysis and the need for a transplant. With the help of drugs to manage her blood pressure, a specialized diet and regular exercise she has now doubled the functional capacity of her kidneys.

Kate is one of the lucky ones. So far she has been able to manage her kidney disease. Many are not so lucky. About one-in-ten British Columbians live with some level of kidney disease. But many people don’t discover they have it until, like Kate, they reach a crisis. That’s why kidney disease is called the “silent killer.”

On World Kidney Day (March 12th) and throughout Kidney Health Awareness Month, the BC Renal Agency, BC Transplant and The Kidney Foundation of Canada, BC and Yukon Branch, are working to raise awareness and empower people to assess their risk for kidney disease. 

The BC Renal Agency has developed an easy online assessment tool for people to determine their risk and find out if they should see their doctor for additional testing:

People in high-risk categories are strongly encouraged to use the tool to find out if they are a “one in ten.” Risk factors for kidney disease include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • A family history of kidney disease
  • Belonging to a high-risk ethnic group (First Nations, Pacific Islanders, Asian, African)

“A healthy lifestyle can make a difference in preventing and managing kidney disease,” said Health Minister Terry Lake. “Government also has supports available to patients living with the disease and other chronic illnesses and I encourage British Columbians to learn more about the factors that might put them at risk.”

“When people are diagnosed early, they can make diet and lifestyle changes to help maintain their kidney function and possibly avoid the life threatening diagnosis of end stage kidney failure,” says Dr. Adeera Levin, Executive Director of the BC Renal Agency.

Kate Huffman will be available on March 12 for media interviews by phone or in-person within the Lower Mainland. 


The BC Renal Agency plans and monitors the delivery of kidney care services throughout the province. The agency coordinates the delivery of specialized care to kidney patients in 14 hospitals and 27 community dialysis centres across the province and devotes considerable resources to research and knowledge exchange activities in an effort to enhance the quality of care for kidney patients.

The Kidney Foundation of Canada, BC & Yukon Branch exists to help prevent kidney disease or delay the onset.  We also provide support services for patients who have chronic kidney disease, are on dialysis and promote organ donation to increase kidney transplant rates.  We are here to help each and every kidney patient until there is a cure.

The Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) plans, manages and evaluates selected specialty and province-wide health care services across BC, working with the five geographic health authorities to deliver province-wide solutions that improve the health of British Columbians. For more information, visit


For more information or to arrange an interview:

Media Contact:
Gloria Freeborn
Director, Strategic Organizational Development and Stakeholder Engagement
BC Renal Agency

Ben Hadaway
Communications officer
Provincial Health Services Authority
604 675.7416 or media pager: 604 871-5699




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