Kidneys are among the few organs that we can donate during our lifetime and see the receiver catching up with life before our own eyes.
The World Kidney Day is organized in March every year since 2006 by the International Society of Nephrology (ISN) and the International Federation of Kidney Foundations (IFKF). This year, the day will be observed on March 8, which incidentally is also the International Women's Day.
AdvertisementThe theme for this year's World Kidney Day is "Donate- Kidneys for Life - Receive." Kidney transplantation has become a successful procedure enabling more and more people to live a normal life without the need for dialysis. The theme highlights the positive outcomes of kidney transplantation and the life-saving aspect of kidney donation. The overall results of kidney transplantation has improved because of better immunosuppressive drugs and cutting edge research in this area and better understanding of rejection of the transplanted kidney. Though the quality of life of a patient who has had a transplant is much superior to the one on dialysis transplants are far and few. This has been mainly due to the shortage of organs and the ever increasing wait- list for a transplant.
The incidence of end-stage kidney disease in India is estimated to be 150 to 175 per million population per year (or between 150,000 and 175,000 cases). Against this we are doing 3,500 kidney transplants in year. In USA there are 72,500 patients waiting for a kidney transplant but last year only 28,535 transplants were done. To take care of the kidney disease burden, we need to have a two pronged approach - on one side we need to work towards prevention of kidney disease and on the other towards generating more organ donors. In India, with a very high rate of fatal head injuries due to road accidents, the pool of potential organ donors is over 100,000. This pool could easily take care of organ shortage not only for India but also for other countries. This requires better planning, strengthening our trauma services and better tertiary care hospital in smaller towns of the country that can perform transplant surgery.
The World Kidney Day also aims to create awareness among people to maintain their kidney health so that they do not reach a point where they need dialysis or transplantation. Common conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure can cause kidney damage; a lot of people may be unaware of this fact. In the early stages, kidney damage may go unnoticed in the absence of any symptoms. Diagnosis may be possible only on preventive check-ups and blood and urine tests. Simple tests such as getting the blood pressure checked and checking the urine for protein leak can be the first step in prevention of kidney disease.
On this day, health care professionals are encouraged to advise people how to prevent kidney damage and undergo tests to detect any damage early, especially if they are suffering from other conditions like hypertension and diabetes.
Kidney patients can also participate in making the day successful by sharing their experiences with others through the internet or other social media. And if you are neither a patient nor a health care professional, you can still make a difference by organizing or participating in various awareness events in your city.