TURKEY – Nutrition Site Manger Virginia Royal is excited about her upcoming effort to fight kidney disease.
“It’s a life threatening thing and people don’t realize it,” Royal said. “I want people to open their eyes to see what’s going on.”
With the assistance of the University of North Carolina Kidney Center (UNCKC), the site is hosting their second annual health fair.
The free event is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 22 at the Community Center, 30 Market St.
“It’s expensive if you have to get them checked,” Royal said.
The average testing procedure is more than $200.
UNCKC’s mission is to reduce the burden of chronic kidney disease through research, assistance to physicians and educational outreach programs such as the coming to Turkey in a few weeks.
Donna Harward, director of education and outreach for UNCKC, said the disease is a health issue which is not discussed a lot in public.
“When people think about their kidneys, they just think it’s a plumbing system with water going in and water going out,” Harward said.
But it’s more than just that.
Kidneys are two bean shaped organs located near the middle of the back, below the rib cage. The main function is to filter waste from the blood and to balance salt and water. Filtered wastes and water are directed to the bladder through the ureters.
Kidney disease results from damage to the nephrons, which are tiny structures inside the kidneys, which filter blood.
A mobile unit will be available for testing. Harward said staff members make trips to counties with high counts of dialysis or transplants (kidney replacement therapy). Those counties are usually rural areas.
“We try to target people who have those risk factors,” Harward said.
According to the UNCKC, one in nine North Carolinians have chronic kidney disease (CKD). It begins when the kidneys begin to lose their ability to remove waste and maintain fluid and chemical balances in the body. The disease may evolve quickly or take years to develop.
If untreated, it can result in kidney failure, also known as End Stage Kidney Disease (ESKD).
Officials believe early diagnosis and management can stop or slow the progression and prevent the need for kidney replacement.
Since there’s no symptoms, doctors can detect it through tests which includes an urine analysis. If high protein is detected, the next step is to test the blood.
All Sampson County residents are invited to attend the event, regardless of their health status. No special dietary or other preparation is required for the screening.
Harward said participants will receive a free T-shirt with the awareness motto - “Hey doc. how are my kidneys?”
Royal said people with risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or those who know a family member with kidney disease are encouraged to attend.
“We want to reach out to the younger generation as well,” Royal said. “They may have problems too.”
Several different agencies related to health, safety and aging are scheduled to attend the event as well.
Royal said she would like to have more health fairs in the future.
“We want to make sure people are taking care of themselves,” Royal said.
The site is currently seeking donations for refreshments purposes. Some of the needs for the upcoming event includes water, plastic eating utensils, condiments, bread and meat.
For more information or to donate, call 910-337-3299.
(Chase Jordan can be reached at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter@SampsonInd.)