Copster Green transplant patient calls for more education on kidney disease (From Lancashire Telegraph)
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Copster Green transplant patient calls for more education on kidney disease
9:00pm Friday 15th March 2013 in News
A TRANSPLANT patient has said a ‘massive education programme’ is needed about kidney disease - as a leading charity warns of a looming health crisis.
A new survey found people in East Lancashire and the North West are most ‘at risk’, but many are ignorant about the deadly illness.
Kidney Research UK says the lack of awareness is ‘deeply worrying’ and goes some way to explaining why the disease has reached ‘epidemic proportions’.
Kevin O’Hara, who lives in Park Gate Row, Copster Green, said he suffered multiple kidney failure 21 years ago and ‘crashed’ into dialysis - a treatment which replicates the kidneys’ function by removing waste and excess fluid from the blood.
He was on dialysis for five years, an experience he described as “horrendous”, before he was able to have a kidney transplant.
But the 67-year-old, who has lived most of his life in Burnley, said: “There’s a dramatic shortage of transplantations and the government needs to have a massive education programme.
“The stats say people don’t have a problem with being a donor but nobody actually does it. It could save the NHS billions because dialysis is a very expensive way to treat people.”
He stressed not all patients would be eligible for a transplant, but believes many more would benefit if the donors were available.
The retired sales manager, who has two children and four grandchildren, is also vice-chairman of the Lancashire & South Cumbria Kidney Patient Association, which offers moral and financial support to patients.
If caught early enough, kidney disease can be slowed and even reversed. But because it displays few symptoms, many patients go undiagnosed until their kidneys fail completely - prompting its ‘silent killer’ label.
The survey conducted by Kidney Research UK found 84 per cent of respondents in the North West had little or no knowledge of the disease or its causes.
Just six per cent believed they were at risk, despite 37 per cent saying they suffer from one of the three leading causes – diabetes, high blood pressure or vascular disease.
The charity’s chief executive Sandra Currie said: “Even people who are at significantly increased risk from the illness because of pre-existing conditions appear to be completely in the dark.
“With the number of patients who need treatment for kidney failure rising by more than four per cent each year and very limited funding available for research into new treatments, we have all the makings of a very real public health crisis.”
* Most people with kidney disease have no symptoms because the body can tolerate even a large reduction in kidney function.
The disease often comes on gradually and may be picked up by chance if you have a blood test for another health problem.
Some people are particularly at risk of developing kidney disease, including people with diabetes, those with high blood pressure or people of Asian or African ancestry.
A blood test will tell you how well your kidneys are working and your GP will tell you if you should have one.
For more information see www.kidneyresearchuk.org
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