BY MARLO SCOTT, Columnist
ST. PETERSBURG – World Kidney Day took place in March, but Janice Starling-Williams had to sit this one out because she was still in recovery from a kidney transplant she received in December. Now that she’s back on her feet, she held an All Kidney Patients Heath Care Forum May 22 at the historic Manhattan Casino.
Starling-Williams, former dialysis patient for 13 years and eight months, and her team shared her story with the large group and gave information to improve their lives through empowerment.
Joe Karan from the National Kidney Foundation, once on home hemodialysis therapy but now 12 months transplanted, spoke about how to detect kidney failure. One way is a urine test called Albumin-to-Creatinine Ratio (ACR), which checks for substances that should not be there such as protein, blood or pus, and another way is a blood test to check for levels of a common waste product called creatinine.
There are no early symptoms of kidney disease, which is why it is so important for people at risk to get tested. The earlier kidney disease is found, the earlier it can be treated. Most people don’t know they have kidney disease until their kidneys fail. Risk factors are diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or a family history of kidney disease.
Gift bags were given out stuffed with informative materials on kidney disease and dialysis; there were dialysis patients on hand to give their stories, a PowerPoint presentation on taking care of one’s health was shown and even testimonies on how exercise and diet can end a diabetic’s dependency on insulin.
Attendees learned how to prevent kidney diseases and for those already on dialysis, the latest information and new resources were given to help those suffering from the disease live a better quality of life.
There were vendors and Henry Ashwood serenaded the room with jazz. The event was a success and many left donations to the newly formed support group: All Kidney Patients Support Group (AKPSG), which is a 501 (c) 3 organization. All funds will be used to help dialysis patients and their needs such as food, transportation to and from centers and doctors and much more. Most of these needs occur when their social security check runs out toward the last few weeks of the month.
Awards were also given out. The Stephanie Bates Advocacy Award was given to Rufus Bordene. Stephanie was a key player in getting this support group started. She lived 40 years on dialysis and her life was dedicated to advocating and caring for other dialysis patients. She passed away last year.
The Care Giver award was given to Jeffery J. Smith who is a registered nurse that works in a local Fresenius Dialysis Center. He goes beyond the call of duty to make patients feel safe and comfortable during the four hours of treatment in a center.