AUSTIN, Texas - The annual Austin Kidney Walk takes place Sunday, Nov. 12. The event raises awareness about kidney disease and money for programs benefiting people and families who are living with it.
FOX 7 Austin's Rebecca Thomas spoke with Calvin Lyons, the executive director of the National Kidney Foundation serving Texas about the programs they offer to patients and families.
REBECCA THOMAS: Now, before we get to the walk, let's talk about kidney disease and just how prevalent it is. An estimated 37 million adults in the U.S. have chronic kidney disease, and more than 90 percent aren't even aware of it. Calvin, who is at risk? What are the symptoms, and how can you go get tested?
CALVIN LYONS: I would say one in three Americans are at risk. And to get tested, you need to go and see your doctor and ask, actually ask, for the test. Many health screenings do not include kidney screenings. So we ask people to make sure you ask your doctor specifically for that test. The people who are most at risk are those with diabetes, high blood pressure, anyone over 60-years-old and those with kidney disease in their families. So we especially ask them, Rebecca, to make sure to get tested as soon as possible, and often.
REBECCA THOMAS: Absolutely, and early detection is so important so that you can get treated, make lifestyle changes as needed. But when a patient's kidneys start failing, there's the need for a transplant and often dialysis until a match is found, whether it's a living donor or a kidney from a deceased donor. Right now, the wait is long. Talk about that.
CALVIN LYONS: Yes. The wait is long because there is a shortage of organs. My brother just received the transplant in May, and he had to wait three years. And we were concerned during that time. But what we were doing at the national Kidney Foundation is working to increase the knowledge behind transplantation, how people can move and get to the list, and how we can get more organs into the system to speed up that process.
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REBECCA THOMAS: Getting back to this weekend's kidney walk, which I am proud to be emceeing going on, I believe, six years now. What do viewers need to know to talk part?
CALVIN LYONS: They need to know that it's completely free. We do ask for donations, but if someone wants to come and spend time, support someone in the kidney community who has kidney disease, chronic kidney disease, or even if they have the passion just to support someone in need, we are so excited to have them. The resources from this actually help us to go out and do the prevention versus the intervention. So we're excited to have anyone who would come and support this event.
REBECCA THOMAS: Again, it's this Sunday at 9 a.m. at The Pitch in Austin, and you can find information about that at kidneywalk.org/austin. Tell us about some of the programs offered by the NKF that are made possible through events like the annual kidney walk.
CALVIN LYONS: You know, these resources are so important. One of the key operations that we fund through these resources is Keeps. Keeps is an opportunity for us to go into communities and actually do kidney screenings since some people don't get them with their doctor. We give them the opportunity to get early information and actually take their numbers to their doctor and say "the folks at the Kidney Foundation say I need additional support." So that's exciting. We also support what we call Big Ask, Big Give. The Big Ask, Big Give is an opportunity to match donors who need kidneys with those who have a transplant need. And that's actually a live donor opportunity. So we're excited to have those two programs in addition to one more, which is very special to me. And that is Camp Reynal. That is an opportunity for kids with kidney disease to go to camp and to enjoy themselves and to be treated like every other kid.
REBECCA THOMAS: All right. And to learn more, if you'd like to donate, if you'd like to sign up again, go to kidneywalk.org/Austin.