Happy (Kidney-Friendly) Thanksgiving

By Heather Shenk

thanksgiving-turkey photoMany holiday celebrations focus on a meal, but none more so than Thanksgiving. For those whose health conditions require them to closely monitor their diet, the holiday can be stressful. This sentiment is especially true for dialysis patients. Although some patients may want to use Thanksgiving as an excuse to take a break from their diet, the reality is that any time certain foods are eaten in large enough quantities (holiday or not), they could be jeopardizing his or her health.

There are ways to alter a Thanksgiving feast so that those on dialysis can partake in the festivities. Whether you are a dialysis patient or have a dialysis patient attending your holiday meal, you might find the information below can help make the day more enjoyable for all.

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Why Shared Decision Making Matters for Dialysis Patients

By Caroline Wilkie

Caroline Wilkie

Caroline Wilkie

If you are on dialysis, or have been on dialysis, you have benefited from the National Kidney Foundation’s Kidney Disease Outcomes Quality Initiative (KDOQI) guidelines. These are basically a series of best practices for diagnosing and managing kidney disease at all stages.

Now NKF has released an update to KDOQI’s guidelines for hemodialysis. This update is important to patients because it increases emphasis on shared patient-physician decision making when it comes to our dialysis care. Shared decision making is the collaborative process that allows us to work with our healthcare providers to make dialysis care decisions together. It takes into account not only the best scientific evidence available, but our values and preferences as well. Continue reading

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The Connection Between EPO and Our Kidneys

EPO - Seringue DopageYou may have heard the term EPO in the news related to athletes and drug use to enhance performance. ErythroPOietin (EPO), a hormone produced by the kidneys, helps us to make red blood cells. If we don’t have enough red blood cells, then we don’t get enough oxygen delivered to important areas such as the heart, lungs, and muscle. Because of EPO’s role in making red blood cells to increase oxygen carrying capacity in the body, some athletes use EPO injections to improve physical performance. But aside from being disgraced for cheating, such athletes put themselves at great risk for health problems. There are ways to train the body to better utilize the red blood cells’ oxygen carrying capacity, such as training at higher altitudes. This type of training must be done with expert guidance.

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Marathons Keep My Kidneys Running

By Saran Ganesh

Saran at the UAE Healthy Kidney 10K

Saran at the UAE Healthy Kidney 10K

My name is Saran Ganesh and I am a proud supporter of Team Kidney. Earlier this year, I participated in the UAE Healthy Kidney 10K and now I’m gearing up for the Marine Corps Marathon in October. As a kidney disease patient, I feel it’s important to do what I can to raise awareness and funds for kidney disease. Here is a little bit of my personal story.

I was born in Sri Lanka during the Civil War. My father was killed during the war when he was caught in crossfire. My mother was a very strong woman who raised me, my brother and two sisters without any support from extended family or friends. In 2001, our family was fortunate enough to come to the United States. I went to college and eventually secured an internship at Ford motor company, where a medical checkup is mandatory to become an intern. Three days after the checkup, I received a call from my doctor saying that they found high levels of blood and protein in my urine. I wasn’t even sure what that meant. I went to visit the doctor the next day and learned that I have kidney disease.

After going in and out of hospitals for endless blood and urine tests and MRIs, I was officially diagnosed with IGA Nephropathy. Though I cannot go back in time and change what happened to me, I know that I can live a healthy life. By taking my medications, eating healthy, monitoring my weight and exercising, I can maintain my kidney function. My goal is to keep my kidneys running for a long time to come—and that includes being an active participant in Team Kidney events!

Saran's many medals

Saran’s many medals

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Are You Prepared In the Event of An Emergency? Lessons Learned 10 Years After Hurricane Katrina

storm picBack in 2005, the Atlantic hurricane season was the most active in recorded history. The Gulf Coast of the United States experienced devastating effects.

During Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, many dialysis patients and staff had to evacuate their homes.  Homes, dialysis centers and roads were damaged, making it challenging for patients to find care and dialysis treatment. Ninety-four Gulf Coast dialysis centers were closed for one week or more, affecting approximately 5,800 dialysis patients.  In addition, power lines and phone service were impacted, making communication difficult.

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Celebrating A Transplantaversary

Donna and CeceliaMy name:  Donna Tovalin

Donor’s Name:  Cecelia Chmiola

Relationship:  Sister

Date of Transplant:  07/27/2004

On July 26, 2004, my creatine level was at an unGodly level- 9.5.  But on July 28, 2004 it was lowered to 1.0!!  How did this miracle happen??  My sister, Cecelia Chmiola, gave me the gift of life on July 27, 2004!  Since that date, my levels have been normal and I am living life to the fullest!!  Cecelia was my hero then and continues to coach me through life’s ups and downs!  Thank you Cecelia Chmiola for giving me my life back!

You can learn more about living kidney donation here.

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Running for Organ Donation

Sally Matos started running late in life, participating in her first half marathon in 2010 at the age of 52. She fell in love with the sport and quickly began to build up her base and cross races off her list.

While Sally was being rejuvenated by running, her nephew Jason was slowly declining. Jason had been diagnosed with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) at the age of 14. FSGS causes scarring in the kidneys’ tiny blood vessels that filter waste from the blood. By the time Jason neared his 30th birthday, his kidneys were becoming too scarred to function.

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