What all Canadians should know about rising rates of kidney disease

by | Aug 1, 2023 | Health and Wellness

Let’s debunk a myth about kidney disease: it does not only affect people with high-risk factors such as diabetes and high blood pressure. It can affect people who seem otherwise perfectly healthy and fit, including children and teens.

It’s estimated that nearly four million Canadians suffer from kidney disease, and about 4,000 die from it annually.

Because kidney disease can progress without any noticeable symptoms, many Canadians are unaware they have any issues until permanent damage has occurred and life-saving treatment is necessary.

For those in later stages of the disease, dialysis is the go-to treatment. It often leaves patients and families physically and emotionally overwhelmed. Dialysis can involve four to six hours of treatment, three to six days per week for the rest of the patient’s life, often with distressing side effects. This extensive treatment also uses significant resources and dollars from the health care system.

But dialysis is just a bridge to help people get to the best treatment option: a donor kidney. Almost 80 per cent of Canadians on the waiting list for an organ transplant are waiting for a kidney. Currently, wait times for kidneys from deceased donors are four years or more, meaning most patients die before receiving a transplant.

However, there is a life-saving alternative: living organ donors. You do not need to be related to the recipient to be a match. If you are healthy enough, you could be a match for a neighbour, friend or stranger.

If you have a medical condition that increases your risk of kidney disease, speak to your doctor about monitoring your kidney function. Find more information about kidney disease and living organ donation at kidneyalliance.ca

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