World Kidney Day highlights increase in renal problems and need for awareness

“It was the easiest decision of my life,” says Danny McCord about his operation to donate a kidney to his brother.

McCord is now 39 and lives in Hong Kong. He underwent the operation in March 2009 at Queen Mary Hospital. “My brother called me while I was living in England and told me he had kidney disease and that he would need a transplant. To be honest, it was the easiest decision I’ve ever made – keep two kidneys and lose a brother or try to help him. I know some people who have one kidney, some didn’t even know they only had one until much later in life.”

March 12 is the 10th anniversary of World Kidney Day, the most widely celebrated global event focusing on kidney health. Jointly organised by the International Society of Nephrology (ISN) and the International Federation of Kidney Foundations (IFKF), this year’s theme – Kidney Health for All – is a reminder that not all are equal when it comes to risk for kidney disease and access to treatment. With 10 per cent of the population worldwide having some form of kidney damage, there is a long road ahead to raise awareness about the dangers of kidney disease. Chronic kidney disease (CKD), which is predicted to increase by 17 per cent over the next decade, is now recognised by WHO and other organisations as a global public health issue.

According to the Hospital Authority, in 2014 there were 1,169 new cases of end-stage kidney failure, also known as renal failure reported in Hong Kong.

A woman undergoes dialysis treatment as she waits for a kidney transplant. Photo: AP

Of 9,137 people known to be suffering with end-stage kidney failure, 2,027 are awaiting kidney transplants. There are more than 7,000 patients with end-stage renal failure in Hong Kong on dialysis treatment – this is 90 per cent higher than 10 years ago.

McCord says he has no regrets about donating a kidney. “Everyone is different but the thing that made it easy for me was that the recipient was my brother. As soon as the operation was over he looked 100 per cent better.”

He says it’s vital to make sure donors are healthy. “Make sure you are relatively fit as doctors won’t operate if you have high or low blood pressure.”

The symptoms of kidney disease and chronic renal failure are not obvious during the early stage. These can include: blood in urine; tea or dark coloured urine (hematuria); frothy urine (albuminuria); turbid urine (urinary infection); pain on passing urine; difficulties urinating; sand/stone in the urine; significant increase or decrease in urine output; nocturia (have to pass urine frequently during the night); loin/abdomen pain; swelling of ankles or eyelids; puffy face and hypertension.

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PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 March, 2015, 3:20pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 March, 2015, 4:18pm

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