March 12, 2009 | State Rep. Linda Tyler’s daughter, Melissa, was a typical, healthy youngster. That is, before she was diagnosed with kidney disease at age 12.
By age 19, her kidneys had failed. Tyler was able to donate a kidney, giving Melissa, now 34, a normal life.
“She owns a pilates studio and she teaches pilates, yoga and spin classes, so she’s fortunately healthy and doing very well,” Tyler said.
Though kidney disease is more likely to occur in middle-aged and older people with underlying health conditions such as diabetes, Melissa’s experience illustrates how kidney disease can strike anyone.
And it’s what led Tyler to join with University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) physician Sudhir V. Shah, M.D., to raise awareness of kidney disease.
“Kidney disease is common, harmful and treatable,” said Shah, professor and director of the Division of Nephrology in the Department of Internal Medicine.
Tyler, Shah and others joined Gov. Mike Beebe on Thursday for a ceremony at the state Capitol in which Beebe issued a proclamation declaring World Kidney Day in Arkansas.
Shah, a member of the World Kidney Day Committee, helped establish the second Thursday in March as World Kidney Day three years ago. March is also National Kidney Month.
Shah said it’s important that the public be aware that kidney disease is common, affecting one in eight adult Americans, and the incidence is likely to increase because of the worldwide increase and prevalence of diabetes. Although doctors routinely perform cholesterol and other screenings, their patients are rarely offered tests for kidney disease despite it being recognized as a risk factor for heart disease. There are simple and inexpensive blood and urine tests to detect kidney disease.
“The idea of World Kidney Day is we are also trying to educate physicians and raise their awareness,” Shah said. Doctors should be especially concerned about the potential of kidney disease in patients with hypertension, diabetes and a family history of kidney disease. African-Americans also are at high risk for kidney disease.
Tyler is leading a group that hopes to help raise money for a kidney center at UAMS. She warned that Arkansas is facing a mounting problem with the disease.
“We as a state are faced with a significant curve of people who are going to be facing kidney disease,” Tyler said. “It’s not one of those sexy diseases, so we’ve got to make sure that family medicine doctors do a better job of recognizing the patients at risk for kidney disease and intervening more quickly.”
Raising Awareness of Kidney Disease is UAMS Physician’s Goal exportuser2 2018-06-05T17:58:27+00:00