Are you Kidney-ing Me?
More screen time for a top organ this March
They may be small but our kidney’s certainly pack a punch. In fact so much so that this year our national foundation, Kidney Health New Zealand, are stepping up the campaigning and running a month-long awareness programme across March.
Not in the know
“Kidney disease is not necessarily bounded by age or genetics – one in 10 New Zealanders has some form of kidney disease but only one of that 10 know they have it. There is a huge misconception that poor kidney health is intrinsically related to diabetes only. When in fact there are so many health variables that influence our kidney well-being – hypertension, dehydration, kidney infections – UTI’s,” explains Erica Fairbank, national education manager for Kidney Health New Zealand. “Many people aren’t aware that kidney function goes beyond simply purifying our blood. The critical regulation of the body’s salt, potassium and acid content is performed by the kidneys, they also produce hormones that affect the function of other organs. For example, a hormone produced by the kidneys stimulates red blood cell production. They control the blood pressure and acid balance base and vitamin D levels – and that’s not all!”
A big ‘YES’ to more screen time
Despite the challenging nature of 2020, kidney supporters and DHB’s nationwide upped their screening for national kidney day and took their testing to the steps of parliament (even David Seymour got screened!) The success of last year’s campaign has spurred them into even greater action.
“A month-long awareness allows us and our DHBs across the country to really hit home the importance of getting screened – young and old,” explains Erica. “We’re running a series of events: a Pacifica event, MP screening, a two-week e-scooter challenge nationwide, launching 10 kidney ambassadors and developing a portfolio of kidney stories, among other initiatives. We’re aiming to boost the profile of this lesser-known disease.”
Everyone stands to benefit
Because when it comes to kidney health, it’s no game of hide and seek, says Rachel Barrett, national manager of Kidney Kids NZ. “There are many different kidney conditions and urinary tract disorders among children and some can be born with kidney disease or impairment,” she says. “Medication and or and or surgery may correct some problems and some children have ESKD (End Stage Kidney Disease) which means they need dialysis or a kidney transplant to live.”
Last year Kidney Kids NZ provided support to 400 + kidney kids and their families nationwide. Eight kidney kids received a life-saving transplant in 2020.
This March they’re set to put Kiwis’ kidney knowledge to the test.
“We want to educate kids and their families. Many don’t even know where your kidneys are. They sit in the middle of your back just above your waist, protected by your ribs and muscle and a layer of fat – just like a cushion,” says Rachel. “We want to encourage Kiwis to get screened, keep hydrated, get your blood pressure checked, eat wisely and exercise regularly.”