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March is National Kidney Month

National Kidney Month, observed every March, brings awareness to kidney health and encourages people to support kidney disease research and take steps to keep their own kidneys safe and healthy. The Kidney Resource Network is doing all it can to help raise awareness about chronic kidney disease (CKD), a condition that 1 in every 7 adults (age 18 or older) in the United States has, as well as people with end stage renal disease (ESRD) who need dialysis or a kidney transplant.

As of January 2023, Texas ranks number two as the state with the most patients on the kidney transplant list. Bell County, Texas ranks in the top 25 counties with patients who have chronic kidney disease due to diabetes and hypertension according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Kidney disease develops when kidneys lose their ability to remove waste and maintain fluid and chemical balances in the body. The severity of CKD depends on how well the kidneys filter wastes from the blood. It can progress quickly or take many years to develop.

Because there are little to no signs of the condition, most people are not even aware that they have kidney disease until it reaches the later stages, including kidney failure.

Risk factors for chronic kidney disease

High-risk populations include those with diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease and family history of kidney disease. Diabetes is the number one cause and high blood pressure is number two. According to the CDC, 1 in 3 with diabetes and 1 in 5 with high blood pressure have kidney disease.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, African Americans are nearly 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with kidney failure compared to Caucasians. Other high-risk groups include Hispanics, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans and seniors 65 and older.

Who should be screened for chronic kidney disease?

Anyone 18 years old or older with diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease or a family history of kidney disease should be screened for kidney disease. Keep checking our events page for a free screening and plan to attend. If not, visit your doctor and ask that you be screened for chronic kidney disease.

What is involved in a kidney screening?

Because there are often no symptoms of kidney disease, laboratory tests are critical. When you get a screening, a trained technician will draw blood that will be tested for creatinine, a waste product. If kidney function is abnormal, creatinine levels will increase in the blood, due to decreased excretion of creatinine in the urine. Your glomerular filtration rate (GFR) will then be calculated, which factors in age, gender, creatinine and ethnicity. The GFR indicates the person’s stage of chronic kidney disease which provides an evaluation of kidney function.

How do you treat chronic kidney disease?

In many cases, kidney failure can be prevented or delayed through early detection and proper treatment of underlying diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure to slow additional damage to the kidneys. Also helpful are an eating plan with the right amounts of sodium, fluid and protein. Additionally, one should exercise and avoiding dehydration. Treating diabetes and high blood pressure will slow additional damage to kidneys.

End stage renal disease patients have two treatment options:

  • Dialysis is a treatment that removes wastes and excess fluid from blood when the kidneys are not able to do it on their own. Typically, it is necessary upon development of kidney failure — usually by the time an individual loses about 85-90 percent of kidney function. There are over 380,000 people (including children) in the United States who depend on dialysis treatments to stay alive.

  • The only other treatment option for people with end stage renal disease is a kidney transplant.

  • Patients seeking new organs may not always get them in time to survive; in the U.S., twelve people die each day waiting for a kidney.

What can you do to raise kidney disease awareness?

Take the steps now to raise awareness about kidney disease. Not only should you take the risk assessment but encourage others to take it as well. Take the Davita risk assessment here.

National Kidney Foundation and National Kidney Month

The National Kidney Foundation grew out of a mother’s determination to further research into treatment for kidney conditions. When her infant son was diagnosed with nephrosis, Ada DeBold started the Committee for Nephrosis Research to organize efforts to find treatments and connect patients and doctors. DeBold continued crusading for the organization, which eventually became the National Kidney Foundation. The Foundation conducts fundraising to support important research into the treatment and prevention of kidney disease. If you are interested in more of Ada DeBold’s story, visit:

Sources: The National Kidney Foundation; 2017 CDC National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion; Texas Health and Human Services Chronic Kidney Disease Task Force

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