3 posts tagged “kidney failure”

Give the Gift of Life on National Donor Day

Posted February 13th, 2013 by

Valentine’s Day is all about showing your love for your significant other.  But what if it were also about showing your love for perfect strangers?

February 14th is National Donor Day, a day of awareness about how registering to be an organ donor can give someone a second chance at life.  Does your driver’s license currently indicate that you are a donor?  If not, and you’d like your organs (as well as potentially your tissues, marrow, platelets and blood) to help someone else after you are no longer here, sign up to be a donor today.  In the time it takes you to register, someone with a life-threatening condition will be added to the waitlist.

Wondering if your registration will really make a difference?  Here are a few statistics that help underscore the need for more donors:

  • 117,001 people are currently waiting for an organ transplant
  • 18 people will die each day while waiting for a new organ
  • 1 organ donor can save up to eight lives total

In particular, there is a need for more minority donors.  While organs are not matched according to race/ethnicity, there is a greater likelihood that compatible blood types and tissue markers – the critical elements of the matching process – will be found among members of the same ethnicity.  Thus, a greater diversity of donors could potentially increase access to transplantation, which is essentially the only treatment for end-stage organ failure (e.g. kidney failure, heart failure, liver failure).

Are you awaiting an organ transplant – or the recipient of one?  Join PatientsLikeMe to connect with others like you.  We have thousands of transplant patients among our members, including those with (or still awaiting) a heart transplant, kidney transplant, liver transplant, lung transplant and pancreas transplant. What’s it like to go through organ transplantation? Read our in-depth Patient Voice report on “Life After a Transplant” as well as our insightful interviews with liver transplant recipient Amy Tippins and kidney transplant recipient Michael Burke.


It’s World Kidney Day. How Are Your Kidneys?

Posted March 8th, 2012 by

Today Is the Seventh Annual Observance of World Kidney Day

Today is World Kidney Day, a joint initiative of the International Society of Nephrology (ISN) and the International Federation of Kidney Foundations (IFKF).

Since 2006, World Kidney Day has been raising awareness of the importance of our kidneys to our overall health.  For example, did you know that it’s our kidneys’ job to remove toxins and excess water from the body?  Or that these two organs – roughly the size of a fist each – help regulate our blood pressure, blood cell production and bone health?

It’s no wonder then that humans can’t survive without kidneys, which brings us to this year’s World Kidney Day theme:  the need for life-saving organ donations and kidney transplants.  Without them, those with chronic kidney disease who progress to complete kidney failure (aka end stage renal disease) have a bleak prognosis.  Unfortunately, the need for transplantation is growing worldwide due to the increasing prevalence of diabetes and high blood pressure, the main causes of kidney disease.

A Kidney Transplant Saves Lives for Those with End Stage Renal Disease

As a result, prevention is inextricably linked to being healthy in general:  maintaining a healthy weight, exercising and eating right.  Here in the US – where approximately 26 million Americans have chronic kidney disease, and millions more are at risk – the National Kidney Foundation has launched a campaign featuring legendary restaurateur B. Smith.  Check out the video below to learn about the risk factors for kidney disease and how you can reduce them with simple actions such as reducing salt and fat intake, quitting smoking and replacing soda with water.

Are you living with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease?  Connect with others like you to share experiences, support and advice.  At PatientsLikeMe, we have 2,700+ patients with hypertension, 2,700+ patients with type 2 diabetes and 300+ patients with chronic kidney disease.  In addition, 1,900+ members have undergone – or are awaiting – a kidney transplant, while 50+ others are on hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis.  Add your own story and gain insight from this wealth of real-world knowledge.


Battling the Complications: An Interview with Diabetes Patient Michael Burke (Part II)

Posted November 9th, 2011 by

Last week, in Part I of this interview, PatientsLikeMe member and blogger Michael Burke shared his sister Linda’s struggle with type 1 diabetes.  Today, we learn about his own type 1 diabetes journey, including his June 2011 kidney transplant as a result of diabetes-induced kidney failure.

1.  What diabetes complications have you faced?

PatientsLikeMe Member and Diabetes Blogger Michael Burke

Diabetes is a disease that appears to be misunderstood by most people, in that the consequences of the disease can lead to many different complications.  As I mentioned earlier, both Linda and I suffered from diabetic retinopathy…essentially, you can go blind from diabetes.  Another complication is nephropathy, or kidney disease.  For me, this led to kidney failure and the eventual need for a kidney transplant this past June.

Heart disease is another major complication.  Personally, I never knew that I had any heart disease until one day my primary care physician sent me for a routine stress test.  During the stress test, the cardiologist felt it necessary to immediately admit me to the hospital and do a cardiac catheterization the next morning.  When he did, he found two blockages in my right coronary artery – one was a 90% blockage and the other was an 85% blockage.  I then had several stents placed.  After two years, those stents were becoming ineffective, and I required heart bypass surgery.  Lucky for me, there was a heart surgeon in Boston who was doing bypass surgery robotically.  What this meant for me was a much smaller incision (about an inch and a half compared to the whole chest being opened up), and being a diabetic, less risk of infection and a shorter recovery time.

Another complication is [diabetic] neuropathy, or nerve damage.  Typically, this usually affects the feet, but other parts of the body can be affected as well.  As for Linda and I, the neuropathy is/was primarily in our feet.  For Linda, it was extremely painful, with the feeling that you are constantly being poked in your feet with something very sharp.  For me, the feeling has been quite different, in that there is no feeling, at least around my big toes, which in turn has caused some balance issues for me.  Neuropathy is serious, it’s not just that it is painful for some and a loss of feeling for others.  It can also lead to amputation of your toes, your foot, or in drastic circumstances, part of or all of your leg.

2.  What was your kidney transplant experience like, and how are you doing now?

I went through a whole lot of emotions over the course of getting this new lease on life.  Although I had been prepared by my kidney doctor over the last several years that I was most likely going to need a kidney transplant, the day I sat with the transplant team for the first time was absolutely frightening and surreal at the same time.  It’s hard to explain.

I just remember sitting with the transplant team and when the transplant doctor said, “Ok, we will put you on the transplant list within the next few days, and we will move forward,” my heart was pounding so hard I thought it was going pop out of my chest.  There is also a lot of anxiety that goes along with the whole transplant process.  At first, I didn’t know where the kidney would come from.  I knew there were family members who said that they wanted to be tested and now I was also on the national transplant list.

Michael Burke's Brother and Kidney Donor Tommy

When my brother Tommy was starting the testing process, I kept going back and forth in my head.  It would be great to have someone close to me donate, but then there was the guilt.  If I ever rejected their kidney now they are left with just one.  As it turned out, Tommy was a 5 out of 6 antigen match, and he donated his kidney to me in June.

I had often heard before the transplant that you won’t understand how badly you felt or how sick you were before the surgery until after the surgery.  That could not be a truer statement.  I never really felt sick before, and I have been told that is because kidney disease can be very slow and progressive.  However, looking back today, I can honestly say that there has been a 180 degree turnaround.  I have much more energy and I just generally feel well – it has been a huge difference, and I have Tommy to thank for that.

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Are you a diabetes patient as well?  In honor of American Diabetes Month, share your thoughts and stories at CallingAllTypes.com.