Kidneys are known as the body’s filtration system. They remove waste and extra fluid while balancing chemicals that are necessary for proper kidney function. When a person develops chronic kidney disease (CKD) they lose the vital functions the organ performs in the body. In more extreme cases of CKD, patients require regular treatments of kidney dialysis and, in extreme cases, a kidney transplant is the only alternatives.
There are more some 30,000 patients in Florida who require dialysis in order to live. They usually face other chronic health conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, which are often the most common causes of kidney disease.
Wednesday was the 15th annual Florida Kidney Day at the state Capitol in Tallahassee. The event is designed to bring awareness to CKD and kidney health by providing kidney screenings to legislators, staff and the public. The screenings are conducted by various dialysis treatment providers in Florida.
“It’s important for people at risk for kidney disease to take the vital step in prevention by getting screened,” said Dion Atchison, regional operations director for DaVita Kidney Care. “For those with kidney failure, learning about treatment options like transplant and home dialysis is key to maintaining a high quality of life.”
DaVita is one of the leading dialysis treatment companies in Florida providing dialysis to nearly 14,000, or about half of the state’s dialysis patients, at 246 centers across the state.
Early diagnosis and treatment of kidney disease are critical in order to address the increasing costs of dialysis, which currently costs Medicare seven percent of its total budget.
“If we can address chronic kidney disease earlier in the disease process, we can keep people off of dialysis or to get them to transplant as a treatment option so we can get that health care budget down,” said Amy Kozsuch, president of the National Kidney Foundation of Florida (NKFF).
Florida Kidney Day is not only intended to increase public awareness concerning kidney health, but to educate elected officials on the significance of dialysis treatment and proper kidney care as legislators work on a budget and seek to pass legislation to fund health care.
One of the legislative priorities of the National Kidney Foundation of Florida is a proposal to require insurances companies cover the costs of kidney donations.
A person is born with two kidneys but only needs one to survive. Often a person will donate one of their kidneys to help a patient whose own organs are failing. The surgery is considered to be an elective procedure meaning insurance companies aren’t required to pay for the surgery. Medicaid picks up a portion of the costs is left with a hospital bill that could cost them $200,000. A measure before this year’s Legislature would require insurers to cover the transplant.
Florida Kidney Day is sponsored by the National Kidney Foundation of Florida, the Florida Renal Coalition (FRC), the Florida Renal Administrators Association (FRAA).