Dr. John Swanson, Chief of Transplantation Surgery at ChristianaCare discussed kidney health, the National Kidney Foundation and their big fundraiser, the Wilmington Kidney Walk, October 27 at the Delaware Riverfront. We began with a discussion of the role a healthy kidney plays in overall good health, regulating fluids and removing salts, proteins and calcium impacting our blood pressure and other systems. He told us the best way to protect our kidney health is to maintain a good weight, exercise, treat any underlying conditions as your doctor prescribes and drink two liters of fluid per day. Next he described what can go wrong, including diabetes, chronic heart disease, hypertension and autoimmune disease, as well as congenital defects and family-passed disease such as polycystitus, and the symptoms that present, including weight gain, swelling and higher blood pressure. He recommended to start seeing an endocrinologist for diabetes management to prevent further damage and to discuss future kidney disease treatment options – dialysis and transplant – as soon as possible with your doctor. He noted that the rules have changed, time spent on dialysis applies to wait time on the transplant list, decisions can be delayed. Dr. Swanson talked about his program at ChistianaCares and the types of transplants they perform – describing the kidney transplant process. Noting that a living donor transplant has a better chance of success over a cadaver, he encouraged anyone considering becoming a donor to reach out to christianacare.org. He spoke of ‘chain’ donation, where someone gives to a stranger, whose family or friends donate to another, until as many 16 or more transplants have taken place.
We discussed the work of the National Kidney Foundation, they fund research, education and advocacy for health care and coverage for kidney diseases. They offer support and referrals through kidney.org. Their biggest fundraiser, the Kidney Walk takes place in cities all across the country, for the location nearest you visit kidneywalk.org.