EASTON — One in three American adults are at risk for kidney disease, according to the National Kidney Foundation.
Major risk factors for kidney disease include diabetes, high blood pressure, a family history of kidney failure and being age 60 or older. Kidney disease often has no symptoms.
“It’s a silent disease,” said Alan Silverstein, Talbot County Chamber of Commerce president and Easton Town Councilman.
Four years ago he was diagnosed with stage four kidney disease. Over the last year, Silverstein’s kidneys had been functioning at 15%, however a little over a month ago, doctors informed Silverstein that the functioning had dropped to 10%.
Now, he hopes to raise awareness for the community.
“I know there’s going to be somebody else out there who will encounter the same problem and need the resources,” he said. “...There are so many people in our community who are open to offering help, assistance and prayers.”
At age 18, Silverstein was deemed ineligible for the army draft because his physical revealed albumin, a precursor for kidney disease.
“I’ve always known that I’ve had something going on. I’ve had tests over the years and my levels have climbed.”
Kidney disease can be detected through a urine test or a blood test. It is important to get tested because early detection and treatment can slow or prevent the progression of kidney disease.
The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs, each about the size of a fist. They are located just below the rib cage, one on each side of the spine. Healthy kidneys filter about a half cup of blood every minute, removing wastes and extra water to make urine, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
Patients dealing with end-stage kidney disease inevitably require dialysis or a kidney transplant for survival.
Those in the area dealing with kidney disease and wishing to receive a kidney transplant should contact Johns Hopkins Hospital or the University of Maryland Medical System to be placed on transplant waiting lists.
In Silverstein’s situation, for example, there is an average of a four- to five-year waiting list at the Johns Hopkins Hospital.
In the meantime, DaVita Dialysis in Easton offers kidney disease patients hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. These two types of dialysis filter the blood to remove harmful waste and extra fluid.
Furthermore, as kidney disease progresses, dietary restrictions tighten as well. For instance, potassium and phosphorus levels require an extra careful eye.
Above all, Silverstein said he is very hopeful and feels blessed with such close access to the medical community here in Easton. After discussing the matter on his Facebook page, several individuals offered to get tested in hopes of donating a kidney. Such individuals would undergo a thorough evaluation process at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
“The fact that they offered to do that just overwhelms me, that’s unbelievable that somebody would do that...anytime someone is a donor, I don’t care what it is, it’s very generous and unselfish of somebody.”
If you are interested in living kidney donation, contact the transplant center where a transplant candidate is registered.
The Johns Hopkins Kidney Transplant Program was established in 1968 and is the oldest renal transplant program in the state of Maryland. In 1973, the Johns Hopkins Kidney and Pancreas Transplant program was formed, permitting the surgeons and transplant team members to perform the first pancreas transplant in the Mid-Atlantic region.