Healthy Living Examines the Kidneys
World Kidney is celebrated on March ninth every year. Across the globe, the campaigns focus on highlighting the importance of our kidneys as well as to draw attention to prevention and early detection of kidney disease. The Kidney Association of Belize is at the forefront of the three main activities, including fund raising to assist those affected persons who simply cannot afford treatment. On tonight’s Healthy Living, the spotlight is on work of the Association.
“Every year more and more Belizeans are being diagnosed with diabetes and hypertension. These two conditions are two of the main risk factors for chronic kidney disease. Once a person is diagnosed with kidney failure they are desperate for help and financial assistance in getting treatment and that’s when they end up here to the Kidney Association of Belize on La Croix Boulevard. I’m here to find out more about what this association does to help and support Belizeans with this terrible disease.”
Kirk Lainfiesta, Administrator, Kidney Association of Belize
“We have three main objectives. The first is to promote and build awareness on kidney disease. Second to educate the entire populous about preventative measures; to do fundraising events and to fund raise on a whole to subsidize kidney patients for the medical expenses for the treatment they are doing.”
The association has been promoting preventive care and early detection. A healthy lifestyle a yearly kidney function test is their primary message. The simple blood test measures how well your kidneys are working can detect the earliest stages of chronic kidney disease.
“There are five stages. Stage one and stage two are where you can catch it early and it is reversible so you can come back to as close to stage one or one hundred percent as possible. Stage three is borderline that’s where you tip over and go into stage four where you start having kidney failure and at stage five you have total kidney failure where you need dialysis at times both for stage four and five and at stage five you would need a transplant.”
Once the kidneys are no longer functioning, then patients are put on dialysis so that the machine can perform the cleaning of the body that the kidney can longer do. Three sessions are recommended each week. The cost per session: two hundred to two hundred and fifty dollars. At three times a week, patients with renal failure need to find almost three thousand dollars every month for their dialysis treatment; money that many simply cannot find. Last year alone, thirty-five newly diagnosed Belizeans sought the assistance of the association to seek treatment for their kidney failure.
“Normally we try to assist with the first one or two dialysis to get them started and then we sit with them to see what kind of support plan they have in place so that when we are finished with these one or two treatment that they can still get the treatment they need after that. There are three options: the government program and they have two: one at the K.H.M.H. one at the Loma Luz and they can facilitate a certain amount and once those are filled there’s a waiting list so you wait to get off the list. Apart from that the other two institutions that offer provide the necessary facilities for kidney treatment are dialysis de Belice in Orange Walk and the Belize Healthcare Partners in Belize City. Those are the only facilities that offer care and treatment to kidney patients.”
“And those are paid services?”
“Those are paid services. The government program is an assistance program so the government pays for a certain amount so the patients only pay a percentage on that but again once that is filled up you have to be on the waiting list. We have situations and patients where the patients tell us outright that they cannot afford do the rest so even if we provide the first couple they won’t be able to facilitate the others. They come to us crying and we have felt it too. It is an emotional time and sad because the patient tells you “I will die.” and they don’t want to die but the finances is just there and we don’t have it in place where we can provide support for each and every single patient. I wish we did but the reality is we don’t.”
That’s why the association hosts fundraising activities like their annual walk and other functions to raise money for their members and keep on spreading awareness.
“The association and the work that we do is becoming more and more known and we are seeing more and more support. We do have our sponsors who support us big time like our kidney walk and health fair. They donate stuff they assist in the purchase of shirts and all that money that we accumulate goes in to assisting kidney patients. So it goes right back to them. We are getting the support we do need a lot more as we are not getting what we would like but we do get some. In order for us to maintain healthy kidneys we need to take care of them, it’s just like our heart it’s just like any other important organ in our body. It’s even more so important because without our kidneys we will die.”