Community Unites for Day of Kidney Disease Awareness
Thirty million Americans have the disease but only 10 percent know they have it
FARGO, N.D. — Fargo’s Community Kidney Walk brings kidney disease patients, donors and their family and friends together for a day dedicated to awareness.
Thirty million Americans have kidney disease but only 10 percent of them know they have it.
“Kidney disease can be silent. You might not even know that you have it and there are a lot of people that walk around with their kidneys dying and they’re not aware of it so I want people to know that it’s important to have your health checked up on every now and then,” said Wendy Hager, with the National Kidney Foundation of the Dakotas.
Because someday they could be one of ninety thousand people on the transplant list waiting for a new one.
Gene Dickey has had two transplants: one from his uncle and one from an anonymous donor from Boston.
He says it’s a waiting game no one should have to go through.
“It’s really hard. I mean especially because I’m a numbers person. Looking at the statistics, and unfortunately 12 people die every day in America waiting for a kidney. So we know that there’s a need to get donors and that’s kind of too part of the reason why we do the walk,” said Dickey, community outreach manager for the National Kidney Foundation of the Dakotas.
Hundreds of other people with kidney disease or who know someone affected by the illness walked three miles in Scheels Arena to raise that awareness, including Wendy Hager.
Her uncle passed away from kidney disease.
Her husband will also soon donate his kidney to his own uncle in need of the organ.
“The difficult thing is when it came time to look for a kidney donor; I think it was hard to imagine having to ask somebody to put forth such a gift. I think a lot of people struggle that,” Hager said.
Hager says she’s proud of her husband for stepping up to help his uncle, especially because he doesn’t care for hospitals.
“He doesn’t like anything healthcare related and so it was a lot for him to go through all that testing. It was several days spent in clinics and different places that he doesn’t like the smells, he doesn’t like needles, none of that stuff,” Hager said.
Hager says she hopes others will do the same.
“I think we all have two and we really only need one so yeah, I wish more people would be organ donors but I certainly understand there’s a lot of fear to think about undergoing a major surgery to help somebody else out,” Hager said.
Whether it’s deciding to donate an organ or simply by walking to raise awareness for the disease, some say it’s important to realize there are ways to prevent getting the illness.
“Kidney disease affects everyone,” Dickey said. “It’s one of the top leading causes of kidney disease are hypertension so high blood pressure and diabetes are the two leading causes. A lot of times it’s changing your lifestyle to prevent yourself from getting any further.”
The National Kidney Foundation provides information on how to assess your risk for chronic kidney disease on their website.
The Dakotas chapter of the organization also does a free health screenings for the disease.
The next one will be in the spring.