VANCOUVER – BC Renal Agency is taking the opportunity of World Kidney Day to remind British Columbians to assess their kidney health—because one in 10 have kidney disease, many without knowing.
Often called the "silent" disease, kidney disease has virtually no symptoms in its early stages. BC Renal Agency will host a Facebook Live on March 8 to answer questions and encourage people to use the agency's online kidney health assessment tool.
Across BC, 3,148 people depend on life-saving dialysis treatments. One of them is Dolly Mariano, a Richmond resident who was only 42 years old when she discovered that she had polycystic kidney disease and that her kidneys were about to fail.
The news came as a complete shock. "I was living a normal life," she said. "I was happily married with kids, and in my second year of nursing school. But then suddenly, everything changed."
A person can lose more than half of their kidney function before symptoms of kidney disease appear. Some symptoms, like tiredness and loss of appetite, are often mistaken for something less serious.
Within a week of her diagnosis, Mariano's life changed dramatically. She needed to begin dialysis right away—three times per week.
"Going onto dialysis was difficult for me," she said. "On the days I had dialysis I got so tired. I had to terminate my career plan. We couldn't travel anymore. Everything was affected by my need for dialysis."
Fortunately, Mariano's experience of learning about her kidney disease at such a late stage is relatively rare. Early identification of the disease is critical.
"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," said Dr. Adeera Levin, the executive director of the BC Renal Agency.
Todd Hauptman, a BC kidney patient and transplant recipient, will moderate the Facebook Live, which will take place between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m on March 8 on BC Renal Agency's Facebook page. He and other patients, as well as members of a local kidney care team, will field questions.
"My own experience with kidney disease and having a transplant inspired me to become involved with this online event," said Hauptman. "Any patient or loved one who has questions for kidney care professionals should join me."
The BC Renal Agency's online kidney health assessment tool, available in English, Chinese and Punjabi makes it quick and easy to determine if someone is at risk. People in high-risk categories can use the tool to find out if they are a "one in 10." Risk factors include high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and a family history of kidney disease.
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 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 www.phsa.ca.
Provincial Health Services Authority
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