BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) – March is National Kidney Month, and doctors are using the next few weeks to bring awareness to one of the deadliest diseases in the country.
Louisiana ranks first per capita in incidences of Chronic Kidney Disease, according to the National Kidney Foundation of Louisiana. A recent report revealed over 460,000 people are diagnosed, over 16,000 are on dialysis, and 1,800 are on the waiting list for a live-saving transplant.
Chronic Kidney Disease is the eighth leading cause of death in the state.
“Louisiana ranks at the very top, per capita,” said Dr. Michael Roppolo, a nephrologist for Renal Associates of Baton Rouge.
Dr. Roppolo said chronic kidney disease causes more deaths than breast and prostate cancer each year.
Between the millions of people in the country with this disease, experts say there are millions of others who have it but just don’t know.
Dr. Roppolo said that’s because some symptoms can go unnoticed.
“You really don’t have any symptoms until it’s too late,” said Dr. Roppolo.
Symptoms include diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and family history.
Experts say people of African American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian, or Pacific Islander descent are at an increased risk for developing the disease. African Americans are three times more likely than Whites, and Hispanics are nearly 1.5 times more likely than non-Hispanics to develop end-stage renal disease (kidney failure).
”Family history. If someone has a family history, don’t ignore it,” said Dr. Roppolo.
To make things even more complicated, the transplant list is growing, but the number of donors is shrinking.
Doctors are urging people to consider donating a kidney to a family member, a friend, or to someone that needs your “spare.” Living organ donors help others by giving them a second chance at life.
“The need for transplants, and the waiting list is growing,” said Dr. Roppolo. “We need more people to consider becoming organ donors.”
To see if you are at risk for kidney disease, take a simple, one-minute online quiz. Go to minuteforyourkidneys.org today and find out what to do next and how to talk to your doctor.
The National Kidney Foundation of Louisiana’s (NKFL) 16th annual Baton Rouge Kidney Walk is set to kick off from Highland Road Community Park and Grand Pavilion on Saturday, April 2. More than 300 walkers are expected to step up for the event to raise awareness of kidney disease, organ donation, and the importance of early screening and healthy lifestyle for those at risk.
To register, visit www.kidneywalk.org/batonrouge or call 504-861-4500 for more information.
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