According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), is estimated that 10% of people worldwide suffer from some form of chronic kidney disease (CKD). In Mzansi the picture looks even bleaker with an estimated 5 million South Africans over the age of 20 who may be affected by CKD, says Tygerberg nephrologist Dr Nontembiso Mhlana. Many will be waiting for a kidney transplant to save their lives, she says.
In December 2017, the total number of patients on kidney replacement therapy with dialysis or kidney transplant in the country was 10 744, notes Mhlana in a statement by the Western Cape department of health.
World Kidney Day, celebrated on 10 March, focuses on preventative measures and interventions that prevent the onset and progression of kidney diseases. This year’s theme “Kidney Health for All,” focused on bridging the knowledge gaps to improve kidney health through increased kidney care education and awareness in the public sector.
“The average waiting period for a deceased donor kidney is about five years in South Africa,” Mhlana says.
Meet Hamilton Anthony
Hamilton Anthony (44), from Kraaifontein in Cape Town, has been a patient at Tygerberg hospital’s nephrology unit since 1999. He had end-stage kidney disease due to poorly controlled blood pressure and needed to start dialysis from April 1999. He received a kidney transplant on 2 February 2002 from a deceased donor within three years of being on dialysis. He was 24 at the time.
Mhlana says, “He was extremely fortunate that he did not have to wait that long.”
She explains that Anthony has been very compliant with his medication and has maintained a healthy lifestyle over the years.
“He has done very well, barely had any complications or medical issues related to the transplanted kidney or the medication. On average, a kidney transplant from a deceased donor lasts for 15 – 20 years, while a kidney from a living donor lasts 20 – 25 years,” she says. “Hamilton has had the transplanted kidney for 20 years and is doing very well, he is working as a nurse, and he is living a good quality life.”
What you can do for your kidneys
There are several ways to reduce the risk of developing kidney disease, advises Mhlana. You must:
- Keep fit, be active.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Check and control your blood sugar.
- Check and control your blood pressure.
Get your kidney function checked if you have one or more of the “high risk” factors:
- you have diabetes
- you have hypertension
- you are obese
- you have a family history of kidney disease
Interested in becoming a donor?
Should you be interested in becoming an organ donor, contact the Organ Donor Foundation of South Africa.