Chronic Kidney Disease is a condition in which your kidneys are damaged due to certain health conditions thereby reducing their functional ability. This happens gradually over time, usually months to years. As Kidney Disease progresses, it may eventually lead to Kidney Failure which is dangerous because the fluid, waste and toxic substances that are normally removed from the body by the kidneys, start to build up in the body. When this happens you will require dialysis or a kidney transplant to maintain life.
Kidney and urinary tract disease are very common health issues for the Australian community. Almost one million adults over the age of twenty-five years suffer from diabetes in Australia.
There are five stages of Kidney Disease with an increasing range of severity.
1. Slight kidney damage with normal or increased filtration;
2. Mild decrease in kidney function;
3. Moderate decrease in kidney function;
4. Severe decrease in kidney function; and
5. Kidney failure requiring dialysis or transplantation.
The kidneys don’t always get the respect they deserve. Maybe it’s because they’re relatively small and we simply take them for granted. But the kidneys are truly impressive and the more you learn, the more you’ll understand why you want to help keep them healthy.
Although the kidneys are relatively small (each one is about the size of your fist), when they are healthy, they process 100% of the body’s blood supply approximately every 5 minutes.
Kidneys perform many important functions
Kidneys fail when they are no longer able to clean waste from the blood and balance fluid and mineral levels. Regardless of the cause of Chronic Kidney Failure, there is no cure. However, Haemodialysis or Peritoneal Dialysis can be a life-saving solution. Dialysis, along with certain medicines and a careful diet, does what the damaged kidneys can no longer do. It removes the wastes and extra fluid from the blood. A Kidney Transplant is another option for some people with Kidney Failure. Researchers are hopeful that someday all causes of Kidney Failure may be prevented.
The KSN/CKSN programs and services definitely benefit kidney patients, both adults and children. They can provide a life-line of resilience, understanding, friendship and hope – chatting to someone, forming friendships, knowing that someone will be visiting the dialysis unit, massage, knowledge and information.
Kidney and Urinary Tract Disease are very common health issues for the Australian community. One in three Australians are at increased risk of developing Kidney Disease.
Almost one million adults over the age of twenty-five years suffer from Diabetes in Australia. Only half of these individuals are aware that they have Diabetes. As the number of people with Diabetes grows, so will the number of diabetics developing Kidney Disease.
More than one third of our adult population have high blood pressure or hypertension. Hypertension affects the majority of patients with Kidney Disease and is the primary cause of Kidney Failure.
The risk factors for kidney disease
Chronic Kidney Disease is a risk factor for Cardiovascular Disease which results in heart attacks and strokes. Cardiovascular Disease is the leading cause of death among patients with Chronic Kidney Disease.
If you have any of the following symptoms, you should consult your doctor and ask that your kidneys be checked.
Anyone can get Kidney disease. However, new research has created a great deal of interest through the possibility of diagnosing Kidney disease early and offering preventative treatment before the kidneys are completely destroyed. There are several tests that can detect Kidney disease. Your doctor can perform the initial testing procedures.
The two main causes of Kidney disease are Diabetes and High blood pressure or Hypertension.
Most of these conditions occur over a long period of time and cause damage to both kidneys. Even if further deterioration can be stopped the damage already done is usually permanent.
Early diagnosis and careful management of these conditions can delay and even prevent the onset of kidney failure. In many cases of chronic kidney failure no cause can be determined.
Don’t smoke as there is no safe level of smoking and it damages blood vessel walls.
Maintain your weight within a healthy range for your height with a well balanced diet. Regular moderate exercise of 30 minutes on all, or most, days of the week will also help control your weight.
Diabetes is the second most common cause of Kidney disease in Australia, with Diabetic Kidney disease developing in approximately one third of people with diabetes. One quarter of Australians either suffer from Diabetes or are at risk of developing it. As the number of people with Diabetes grows so will the number of diabetics developing end-stage kidney or renal failure.
Hypertension affects the majority of patients with Kidney disease and is the primary cause of kidney failure in 15% of renal patients Australia wide. Chronic Kidney disease is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease which results in heart attacks and strokes. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among patients with Chronic Kidney disease.
You can look after the health of your kidneys by having an annual check-up with a doctor which includes having:
Patients who are experiencing Chronic Kidney disease usually have two choices of treatments. They can go on dialysis or have a transplant. These treatments usually commence when less than 10% of kidney function remains.
Dialysis is a treatment process that helps to replace the work of kidneys by cleansing/filtering the blood and removing excess fluids. Dialysis helps a patient feel better and live longer, but it will not cure kidney failure. However, this treatment has been proven to be effective and is currently used by more than 7,000 Australians.
There are two types of dialysis, Haemodialysis and Peritoneal Dialysis. In some cases the renal physician may recommend one over the other due to medical reasons, however, the choice is totally up to the patient.
Other factors that need to be considered when making dialysis choice include:
Both forms of dialysis work equally well when carried out as instructed and, when the patient has taken measures to maintain their health as recommended by their physician. Patients are not required to commit permanently to one form of dialysis. In some cases, a patient may need to change over because of medical reasons. Each form of dialysis treatment lasts between 4-6 hours and is performed 3 times per week. In some cases, dialysis may last longer and need to be done more frequently.
Haemodialysis is a treatment where the blood is cleansed outside the body using a machine to temporarily rid the body of harmful wastes, extra salt and extra water. This can be performed at home, or in a satellite, self-care or hospital renal unit.
Nocturnal haemodialysis: is a form of dialysis that is performed overnight at home. It usually takes up to 8 hours to complete. The advantage of this treatment includes:
Note: This treatment is not available yet in Queensland hospitals, but it is currently being trialled.
The cost of haemodialysis in public hospitals and satellite units is covered by Medicare. Private treatments are covered by private health insurance. For home treatments, the cost of all necessary equipment is covered by the Government. Patients are responsible for the maintenance and safe storage of equipment. In some cases, the patient may have to pay for extra equipment such as a recliner chair and cost of plumbing.
Dialysis machines can put stress on water and power supply. However many local authorities do provide rebates and concessions for patients.
Peritoneal dialysis is a procedure that removes extra water, wastes and chemicals from the body. This type of dialysis works inside the body and uses the lining of your abdomen to filter your blood.
Kidney Transplant surgically replaces the failed kidney with a healthy kidney from another person. In order for a transplant to take place, patients must be matched with a suitable kidney. If a family donation is not possible, patients are required to go on the waiting list. An average, successful transplant can grant survival for 15 years. This form of treatment provides a better quality of life and life expectancy than dialysis. However, transplant may not suit those with severe heart and vascular disease.
Possible complications after transplant
After a successful transplant, patients can return to normal activities within 3-6 months. Patients who wish to have a baby are advised that they should wait until at least 1-2 years of good kidney function as there is an increased risk of pregnancy issues such as premature births and hypertension in transplant patients. It is advised to discuss this with a doctor.
I lived in an environment with little medical support so it was hard to receive early treatment for kidney disease.
I first heard about Kidney Support Network (KSN) from going up to the hospital and dialysing and have been a strong KSN supporter ever since.
I commenced working for KSN as an Indigenous officer 5 years ago because I know how important early detection and education is to the Indigenous community. Most Indigenous people find out at end stage renal disease where there is little you can do.
A lot of people don’t want to know if they’re sick so are reluctant to get testing for Kidney disease. This is where I come in.
I get to travel and meet with other Indigenous people and help educate them with their food and lifestyle choices. Our biggest issue in the Indigenous community is education and early detection.
At first it’s hard, even for me, to break through to them but then they see I’m not going away and I care. Then they listen to what I have to say.
I have actually had people refuse treatment and take the kidney failure as a sign that they’re not meant to be here, a death sentence. I tell them my story and let them know there are many things you can do to help yourself and live a good life. I live a happy and good life and am thankful and grateful each day. I have had the opportunity to talk to politicians and policy changers and it is my dream to extend KSNs’ Indigenous support Australia wide. Early detection and education is what saves lives.
KSN is an amazing grass roots organisation. It is one of the only organisations to really take care of everything with Indigenous and kidney patients. I love how it understands us as patients and wants to educate.
I had a kidney transplant that failed 8 years ago and am still awaiting another transplant.
KSN has helped improve my life greatly by giving me freedom with my dialysis, by standing side by side with me and helping me educate the Indigenous community. If I didn’t have KSN life would be very different. I could honestly say I would not have a life. It understands and cares as an organisation and it’s work is crucial to kidney patients. A lot of times staff at hospitals don’t have time to talk and explain things to you, KSN does. I respect KSN for what it is doing and can see the difference it has made to the Indigenous population where we have worked.
Every time I get sick I say “I’ve got too much to do, I can’t go now, I’m on a mission”.
There are almost 2,000 people on the national waiting list for organs and tissues. Some of them will die waiting. By being an organ donor, you are giving the gift of life. One donor can improve the lives of up to 10 people. To become a donor, please talk to your family and friends about your decision to donate. The decision to donate should be voluntary and free of feeling ‘pressured’.
You can register online at the Organ Donor Registry, or phone 1800 777 203.
After a successful transplant, most donors recover quickly and can resume normal activities within 4-6 weeks. Activities such as sport will take longer. It is recommended that donors have annual blood pressure, blood and urine testing.
Having one kidney does not –
As medicine continues to advance, the success rate of transplants continues to improve. However, there may be some complications that could occur such as rejection, surgical complication and the original disease that caused Kidney disease in the first place.
Most people think that death occurs when the heart stops beating. This is called cardiac death. Death, however, can also occur when the brain stops functioning. This is called brain death. The way a person dies will depend on which organs and tissues can be donated.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd launched the DonateLifeTM national awareness program in November 2009, which aims to help educate Australian families about organ and tissue donation, and, their power to save lives.
Three things happen when cardiac death occurs.
People who die in this way can donate tissues such as heart valves, bones, corneas and skin up to 24 hours after they die.
The same things occur when a person is brain dead but they occur in a different order.
To be able to donate organs such as heart, lungs, liver, kidneys and pancreas, a person must be brain dead, on a ventilator (artificial breathing machine) and in hospital. Without a supply of oxygen from the ventilator, these organs would not be suitable for transplantation.
Click here! to learn more about organ donation and how you can save a life.
Below is a collection of heartfelt stories from everyday people about their life with Kidney disease. These are stories about determination, love, loyalty and appreciation. They depict the hardship that patients have gone through and how they overcame these struggles to maintain a normal life. Through these stories we hope to provide an inspiration that can give strength and encouragement to others to continue fighting and to never give up hope.
KSN have compiled a DVD detailing the journey of Kidney Patients who have undergone a Kidney Transplant. If you would like receive a copy of our Inspiring Journey DVD, please call us on: (07) 3855 9781.
If you would like more information and clarification regarding Chronic Kidney Disease, please visit the link below. These are some useful links to organisations which specialise at providing information regarding Kidney Disease.
Renal Resource centre provides information about different forms of kidney disease, details options of available treatments and health tips for patients. They also provide specific information for Indigenous groups and patients from other cultural backgrounds.
Kidney Health Australia provides information concerning Kidney Disease including risk factors and ways to prevent and treat kidney disease. They also have tips regarding travelling, caring for patients and managing your finances.
This is a useful website for specialised information and resources catering towards Australian Indigenous Health.
House Call Doctor provides bulk-billed home GP visits to Queenslanders, when regular clinics are closed. House Call Doctors are experienced in treating a broad range of patients, including those living with chronic kidney conditions.
Check our Website: https://housecalldoctor.com.au/
OR contact House Call Doctor direct:
Contacts: 13 55 66 or email: [email protected]
Donate life provides information about organ donations. It answers some common concerns in regards to donating and also provides options on ways to make a donation.
Contacts: (02) 6198 9800