June 18th, 2024

Kidney Foundation walk set for Saturday at Henderson

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on June 9, 2023.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

The Kidney Foundation of Canada is hosting its largest annual community fundraiser this weekend with walks across the country.

Lethbridge’s is scheduled for Henderson Lake on Saturday morning with registration starting at 9 a.m. and the walk going at 10.

Participants can do one lap around the lake, which is a three-kilometre distance, or two laps – a total of six km.

Individual participants will get a Kidney Walk T-shirt by raising $100 or and can become members of the champion’s club by raising $1,000 or more.

This year’s fundraising goal is $15,000 and as of press-time Thursday the total was $13,048.20 – which is 87 per cent of the target.

This will be first in-person walk since pre-pandemic, said Michelle Hofer, manager of Communications and Community Development for the Kidney Foundation Thursday.

“This is really exciting for us” after several years of virtual events, said Hofer.

“We’re hoping to rally everybody and get them out. It’s very family friendly,” Hofer added.

There are no registration fees; people are just encouraged to try to raise as much as they can to help people in the community, she said.

“Anything that we do raise, all the proceeds are going straight back to patients locally.”

The pandemic didn’t impact donations as much as anticipated, Hofer said.

“We have a really great community. Everybody came together as best they could.”

Kidney disease is a growing issue but “it’s also very varied. Two of the most common causes of kidney disease are related to actually diabetes” and cardiovascular/heart issues, she said.

“Your kidneys are actually very connected to your heart. Anything that kind of balances the body.”

Kidney disease is a silent one – people can have up to 80 per cent damage to kidney function without even any symptoms, Hofer said.

“So by the time people find out and they’re often not checking, because people don’t usually think to check their kidneys if they have high blood pressure. That’s a really big cause of kidney decline” and kidney decline can cause blood pressure to go very high, she said.

“Someone with chronic blood pressure, they may not even realize that their kidneys are at the same time failing,” added Hofer.

Kidney disease can affect anyone at any age with 45 per cent of new patients under the age of 65. There is no cure.

The foundation says a transplant offers the best chance at living a healthier life for those afflicted.

Of all Canadians waiting for an organ transplant, 76 per cent are waiting for a kidney with the need much greater than the available supply of organs.

The median wait time for a donation from a deceased person is 3.5 years. Some people will wait longer and some will die, says the foundation.

Lethbridge residents have supported the walk for more than a decade.

“Local Kidney Walks serve as a platform where individuals impacted by kidney disease, along with their loved ones, kidney health professionals, and community members, can come together to offer mutual support. Additionally, this event aims to increase awareness of kidney disease, organ donation initiatives, and raise vital funds that will aid the Kidney Foundation in delivering local support programs and services,” says the foundation in a press release.

There are two physical walks in the region – Lethbridge and Medicine Hat – as well as the virtual “My Walk” for people who can’t attend in-person locations.

The Kidney Foundation is committed to finding a cure for kidney disease.

Kidney’s play a key role in a person’s health, one of their most important jobs being to remove excess water from the body – or to retain water when the body needs more.

“Many of the substances in the blood and other body fluids must be kept at the correct level for the body to function properly. For example, sodium (salt) and potassium are minerals that come from food. The body needs these minerals for good health, but they must be kept at certain levels. When the kidneys are working properly, extra minerals, such as sodium and potassium, leave your body in the urine. The kidneys also help to adjust the levels of other minerals, such as calcium and phosphate (which are important for bone strength, growth and other functions),” says the foundation on its website.

Kidneys remove waste products from the body including urea and creatinine, the latter being a waste product of muscles.

As kidney function decreases, the levels in the blood of both urea and creatinine increase.

Kidneys also produce hormones which regulate blood pressure, calcium balance in the body and red blood cell production.

Kidney disease is a term which describes a variety of disorders and conditions that affect the kidneys.

“Most kidney disease attack the filtering units of the kidneys-the nephrons-and damage their ability to eliminate wastes and excess fluids. Kidney disease can range from mild to severe and in some cases, lead to kidney failure (sometimes referred to as end-stage kidney disease),” says the foundation.

“Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is the presence of kidney damage, or a decreased level of kidney function, for a period of three months or more. Kidney disease can range from mild to severe and in some cases, lead to kidney failure (sometimes referred to as end-stage kidney disease, or ESKD).

“Kidney disease often starts slowly and develops without symptoms over a number of years, so CKD may not be detected until it has progressed to the point where your kidney function is quite low. Fortunately, most people do not progress to end-stage kidney disease, especially if they are diagnosed early and are able to take steps to preserve their remaining kidney function,” says the foundation.

End-stage disease, says the foundation, means the end of kidney function with the organs no longer adequately filtering blood. When they fail, treatments are available including forms of dialysis, transplantation or non-dialysis supportive care, says the website.

“Sometimes kidney failure occurs rapidly and this is called acute kidney injury. This may be a result of infection, diseases that specifically attack the kidney filters, or other causes. For acute kidney injury, dialysis treatment may be urgently needed for a period of time, but kidney function often recovers.”

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