March is National Kidney Month and today is World Kidney Day.
Anamaria “Sina” Sulunga-Kahaialii is on peritoneal dialysis daily and in desperate need of a kidney transplant. Sina, who’s just 14 years old, has been on the transplant waiting list for the past three years. With her O blood type, it’s been a difficult match with a transplant donor.
Sina and her family have moved from their home in Maui to San Francisco to be near the Stanford Medical Facility. It’s been a costly transition. A few months ago, a kidney became available for Sina, but she and her family were unable to make a flight in time, and missed a life- changing opportunity. Sina continues to wait for a kidney donation.
Kidney Disease in Hawaii
Unfortunately, stories like Sina’s are too common, especially in Hawaii. One in seven people in Hawaii are at risk for chronic kidney disease (CKD), a rate 30 percent higher per capita than the national average. The rates are even higher among Hawaii’s Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, Filipino, and Japanese ethnic groups. These groups have a risk for CKD that’s two to four times greater than other ethnicities in Hawaii.
The main causes of chronic kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure, while obesity is also an independent risk factor. All three of these health issues are prevalent in Hawaii. If someone in your family has diabetes or high blood pressure, their risk of CKD is significantly increased. It’s estimated that over 70 percent of people living with kidney failure today started with diabetes.
The National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii
CKD has been known as the “old person’s disease”, but this silent killer is known to attack people of all ages and ethnicities. The National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii continues to lead the state in efforts to prevent chronic kidney disease and to provide patient services to the 164,000 people fighting it. This includes over 3,300 patients on dialysis and 400 people on the organ donor waitlist.
One important service the National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii provides is free screenings for those 18 years and older. These screenings are crucial in understanding your risk factors for CKD and if you should follow up with your primary care physician about your kidneys.
Free Kidney Screening on Friday, March 11
The National Kidney Foundation is offering kidney screenings on Friday, March 11 at the Ala Moana Hotel-Garden Lanai from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The screenings are free and open to the public for those 18 years and older. The screenings include:
• Physical measurements (height, weight, waist circumference, and blood pressure reading)
• Blood glucose check.
• Exit consultations.
• Educational brochures.
Save your spot today by registering with Melissa Guzman at (808) 589-5903 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you can’t make this free screening event, contact Melissa for other opportunities to test your kidneys. You can also visit kidneyhi.org for more information.
Mari Galiher is the Communications & Special Events Coordinator with the National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii