Written by: Alan S. Kliger, M.D., Clinical Professor of Medicine, Yale School of Medicine, and Co-Chair, American Society of Nephrology (ASN) COVID-19 Response Team. As 2021 unfolds, the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Dialysis patients continue to isolate at home, socially distance from family and friends, use face coverings and precautions traveling to dialysis and in the unit. How will this pandemic end? Many patients have important questions about the new vaccines and about new treatments for the infection. First, some facts about the vaccines: What is a vaccine? An injected vaccine is designed to stimulate your immune system to produce antibodies that attack and kill the virus invading your body. Our immune systems help defend us [...]
While February is usually associated with hearts for Valentine’s Day, it is also American Heart Month, where Americans are encouraged to adopt healthy lifestyle choices in order to prevent heart disease. The heart and the kidneys work closely together, so when one isn’t healthy, it can have an impact on the other. If you have kidney disease, you also are more likely to have heart disease. So, what are some ways you can help your heart thrive as a kidney patient? Eat a heart-healthy diet (think fruits and vegetables, high quality proteins, and avoiding foods that contain high levels of sodium, phosphorus, or potassium). Manage high cholesterol Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity [...]
As many people know, February is Black History Month, and it is important that we take the time to reflect upon, commemorate, and celebrate all the incredible achievements made by African Americans and the impact they have had on the history of the United States. What many do not know though, is the disparity with which kidney disease and illness affects the black community. African Americans comprise approximately 13% of the United States’ population; however, they make up more than 35% of all patients on dialysis due to kidney failure. Additionally, about 4.9 million African Americans over the age of 20 are living with either diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes. While that may not seem related, [...]
Merida Bourjolly was elected as the new president for the DPC Education Center by its Board of Directors, effective immediately. Bourjolly has served as a DPC Education Center Board Member since 2018. “It is a privilege to be selected as DPC Education Center's Board President. I want to thank Nancy Scott for her incredible service as the DPC Education Center's President since it was founded in 2012. I look forward to continuing to work to educate and improve patients' lives in this new role,” said Bourjolly. In addition to Bourjolly's new role as DPC Education Center President, Pius Murray was elected as DPC Education Center Vice President. Get to know the DPC Education Center's Board [...]
With 2020 behind us, now is the time to plan your resolutions for 2021. Exercise has been shown to positively impact renal function among peritoneal dialysis patients, and the DPC Ed Center has a free course to help you set and reach your exercise goals. This course explains why exercise is important, how it benefits people living with kidney disease and how you can develop a personalized exercise program that will work for you. By the end of this course, you will be able to: Identify the four components of a well-balanced exercise program Develop a personalized exercise program Identify some motivators for you to exercise Take the first steps to begin your exercise routine [...]
By Keith A. Bellovich, DO and Mirjana Dimitrijevic, MD Parathyroidectomy is the surgical removal of one or more of your parathyroid glands. It stems from the Greek ektomia = "cutting out" which means to surgically remove something from your body. The parathyroid glands are made of tissue slightly larger than a single grain of rice, located around your Adam’s apple that produce parathyroid hormone (PTH) and control the levels of calcium in your body. PTH stimulates the conversion of calcidiol (25-hydroxyvitamin D) to calcitriol (activated vitamin D) within kidney tubular cells, which leads to the absorption of calcium in your diet from your small intestines. Most people have four parathyroid glands. Supernumerary (more than four) [...]
By Michael Ramirez The worst day of my life became the best day of my life. ''Your kidneys are failing," my physician said to me. My first thought, "What does that mean?" My doctor confirmed, "You need to see a specialist." I learned that a nephrologist is a kidney doctor, and that was the type of specialist I needed. I trusted my doctor so I asked, "Who should I see? Who do you trust?" My doctor referred me to his choice of nephrologist—and so I made an appointment right away. If your doctor says you need to see a nephrologist, don’t wait months to make the appointment. Some people will research the different nephrologists in [...]
By Harvey Mysel I’ve often been asked: “Where can I register to get a living donor?” Unlike deceased donation where there’s one national list, (although you can multi-list because some areas have a shorter wait time) there’s no such list for someone looking for a living donor. You must find your own living donor. When you do have someone that is able to be a living donor, many are not compatible with their recipient. Thirty to 50 percent of donor/recipient pairs are not compatible with each other. In such a situation the incompatible donor could still help the person in need by getting involved in a paired exchange. What this incompatible pair needs to know [...]
By Elizabeth Anderson, LCSW, DSW and Dale Lupu, MPH, PhD When I was first told I had chronic kidney disease (CKD), I was grateful that there were lifesaving treatments, but I was also scared because I didn’t have a plan. I worried that I might be in pain or become a burden to my family. I felt better when I was able to discuss my desires and healthcare decisions with my family and healthcare team. What kind of medical care would you want if you were too ill to express your wishes? Like most people, you may not have thought about it, or you may have a difficult time discussing it with your family and [...]
Support the Dialysis Patient Citizens Education Center We want to take this opportunity to say thank you. As you know, it is our mission to reduce the occurrence and delay the progression of kidney disease. We work to accomplish our goals by: developing unique educational programs to empower patients and increasing public awareness of kidney disease. In fact, with your support, this past year we: Addressed the coronavirus pandemic in March with CDC leading a webinar for kidney patients with over 2,500 live and recorded viewers. It was one of the first in the kidney community for patients and was followed by two more webinars on the topic. Increased average webinar attendance by over 250% and [...]
By Jewel Edwards-Ashman I started the year 2020 anticipating that I’d enter kidney failure and have to undergo my second kidney transplant. But I didn’t expect to start doing home dialysis and eventually have transplant surgery in the middle of a pandemic. Transplant surgery in ordinary circumstances comes with a high level of stress and anxiety. Having a kidney transplant during a public health crisis only exacerbated those feelings for me. To reduce my stress and manage my emotions, here are three things I did: I prioritized self-care. Most Americans, even those who aren’t living with chronic illness, have been experiencing significant stress this year. News and events surrounding the pandemic, the election and racism [...]
Habitat for Humanity has a program called Housing Plus/Aging in Place to help older Americans improve their home living conditions and quality of life. Rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach, Habitat assesses and addresses the unique living needs of each person, which may include home repairs, installations of ramps and grab bars, and more. In addition, Habitat connects recipients with other services they need that may address health, isolation, hunger and transportation. Lookup your local Habitat for Humanity to ask about aging in place program availability in your community. Read the full article.
By Collette Powers, MA, RDN, LDN, ACSM EP The year 2020 has proven to be a challenging year. Not only have many had to fight COVID-19 head-on, but millions have experienced the repercussions of the pandemic such as job loss, increased anxiety and stress, food insecurity, and social isolation to name a few. As our nation continues to fight this fight, we now have to consider and prepare for other illnesses commonly seen around this time of year such as upper respiratory infections (also known as the common cold), influenza (flu) and pneumonia. With fall here and winter around the corner, there are things we can incorporate into our daily routines to help boost [...]
By Arthur Allen, Kaiser Health News Pfizer’s announcement on Monday that its COVID-19 shot appears to keep nine in 10 people from getting the disease sent its stock price rocketing. Many news reports described the vaccine as if it were our deliverance from the pandemic, even though few details were released. There was certainly something to crow about: Pfizer’s vaccine consists of genetic material called mRNA encased in tiny particles that shuttle it into our cells. From there, it stimulates the immune system to make antibodies that protect against the virus. A similar strategy is employed in other leading COVID-19 vaccine candidates. If mRNA vaccines can protect against COVID-19 and, presumably, other infectious diseases, it [...]
Dialysis patients who are considering whether to pursue a kidney transplant can check out a new resource to help them make that decision. The resource—a guide that was written by patients with End-Stage Renal Disease—provides an overview of the decisions that need to be made when getting a transplant, the rewards and risks involved, and what to expect after the transplant. Patient stories, questions to ask transplant facilities and additional resources are also included in the guide. Download the guide.
By Stacy Ogbeide, PsyD, ABPP, CSOWM DPC Education Center Advisory Council Member Stress Management—a topic those living with heart disease and chronic kidney disease have heard before but now in 2020, takes a whole new meaning. We are in the COVID-19 pandemic—unprecedented times—that are impacting people physically, financially, socially, spiritually, and emotionally. Maybe your healthcare has been disrupted; treatment disrupted; work, social, and family life disrupted. Your current stress management options are no longer working, or you don’t have access to your typical stress management options, which is beginning to take a toll on you. Don’t lose heart—I’d like to share a few thoughts and ideas about how to manage your stress levels during [...]
Medicare Advantage Now Open for Enrollment, "A Mindful Heart": Stress Management Tools for Patients Living with Heart Disease and Chronic Kidney Disease, Kidney Patients and Coronavirus: What Have We Learned? and more!
If the global pandemic is starting to negatively impact your mental health, there is a resource that can help you better understand and cope with the feelings you are experiencing. This toolkit includes suggestions for: increasing public awareness, building community capacity, using telemedicine and how to stay ahead of the potential emerging issues. Check out the toolkit.
Between now and December 7, dialysis patients are, for the first time, able to choose a Medicare Advantage plan for their coverage. Medicare Advantage is an alternative to traditional Medicare run by private insurance companies. To help kidney patients explore their options, Dialysis Patient Citizens has established Dialysis Plan Choice, an online tool designed in collaboration with Consumers’ Checkbook for dialysis patients to quickly and easily compare their current Medicare Fee-For-Service plan with the options available to them through Medicare Advantage. DialysisPlanChoice.org helps patients and caregivers more easily understand what plans are available to them, the costs are associated with those plans, and, most importantly, which plans will include their care providers. Dialysis Plan Choice, available at www.DialysisPlanChoice.org, provides patients with a [...]
The DPC Education Center just launched a new online course called: Exercise and the Benefits to You and Your Kidneys. Exercise is important for our physical and mental health. This course explains why exercise is important, how it benefits people living with kidney disease and how you can develop a personalized exercise program that will work for you. Check out the Course