Thursday, April 8, 2010

Living Donor's Assistance Program

People ask me "Why should I care about kidney disease or transplants?"

I offer 3 reasons - decreasing the occurrence of these conditions would help reduce our taxes, 1 in 4 people will develop kidney disease and it can often be avoided or delayed by healthy lifestyle choices and there is a shortage of donors for transplants, which has a more positive impact on our taxes over the long haul.

Currently expenses associated with chronic kidney disease (CKD) represent 30% of the Medicare budget. Simply by reducing that number we positively impact the taxes required to fund the program. I can only imagine the impact of kidney disease on the new healthcare program. I fully expect them to mirror the Medicare expenses as a percentage.

Today, about 1 in 7 people suffers from CKD. However, that number is expected to increase to approximately 1 in 4 because of the rising obesity rate. “Obesity triples the risk of chronic kidney failure” (Science Daily). According to the Center for Disease Control, "American society has become 'obesogenic,' characterized by environments that promote increased food intake, non-healthy foods, and physical inactivity. Research has shown that as weight increases to reach the levels referred to as "overweight" and "obesity," the risks increase for various conditions, including coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, stroke and a variety of others.

But more importantly, anyone can develop kidney problems, according to the American Kidney Fund. Many people that are currently affected with problems are unaware. Certain people are at a higher risk of developing kidney disease, particularly those who

- Have diabetes
- Have high blood pressure / hypertension
- Have a family member with kidney disease
- Are African American, Hispanic, Native American or Asian

Kidney disease affects everyone either directly or indirectly. Given the current state of affairs, together with the troubling trends relative to obesity, there is a very good chance that you or someone that you care about will develop one of thes conditions - unless we do something to change things.
Ideally, we would avoid this disease completely or, at least, delay its onset. Other than those of us who develop kidney disease because of a family history, many of the contributing factors are related to our habits and lifestyle choices (e.g. food, exercise). These are things that we can control.
For those of us who develop the disease, there are no cures, but there are treatment options. They are lifestyle management, dialysis, transplant or no action, which will usually result in a shorter lifespan. Looking at the options from an impact on society, quality of life issues aside, the financial analysis would suggest that it would be best for everyone with the disease to get a transplant. Assuming that the annual cost of dialysis is ~$70,000 per year and the initial cost of a transplant ~$110,000, when you factor in the cost of immunosuppressant drugs, the breakeven point of a transplant versus dialysis is ~2.5 years. In light of these assumptions and the current economic situation, one might ask "why wouldn't everyone opt for a transplant?". The answer is largely due to the shortage of donor organs.
The Paired Kidney Exchange Program, a recent development in the healthcare industry, make it more likely that more people can get a transplant. This program means that a donor and the intended recipent no longer have to have compatible blood or tissues. Learn more about this and other important topics related to living donors and potential transplant recipents at

Glenda V. Roberts
Executive Committee

No comments:

Post a Comment