Not kidneying around

LIHUE — One in seven people in Hawaii have kidney disease. Are you at risk?

The National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii will host a free kidney health screening for adults ages 18 and older from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Kauai Veterans Center in Lihue. The screening is a snapshot of current kidney health and an opportunity to educate about disease prevention.

Kauai Medical Reserve Corps volunteers will staff early detection multi-stations to screen blood pressure, height and weight measurements, blood glucose and urine. A consultation with a medical professional will interpret the results.

“Kidney disease is a silent killer because people don’t know they have it until they are too far into renal failure,” said Alicia DeVoll, an early intervention coordinator with NKF Hawaii. “Once that organ is gone, it fails for life and doesn’t come back.”

One in two people are at risk in Hawaii, according to NKF Hawaii, and one in seven have kidney disease — a rate 30 percent higher than the Mainland. There are 107 people on Kauai undergoing dialysis, which is considered a high percentage for this population size.

Risk factors include people over age 60, diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, socioeconomic conditions, illicit drug use and overuse of pain killers. People of Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander and Asian background, Native American, Hispanic, African American, or elderly Caucasians, are at higher risk.

The kidney organs filter blood, remove waste products and balance the body fluids. They control the production of red blood cells, release hormones to regulate blood pressure as well as an active form of Vitamin D for strong bones.

A majority of the people who have chronic kidney disease in Hawaii do not even know they are sick. There are no noticeable symptoms in the early stages of the disease.

With more than 3,300 people receiving dialysis, the cost to the state of Hawaii is about $70,000 per person annually. There are 440 people in need of kidney transplants each year with only about 100 organs available.

Early detection makes it possible for people with early stage kidney disease to prolong, if not prevent, dialysis with change of diet, lifestyle or the other factors.

“The good news is that people are talking about it more and finding that the spectrum of disease is not 100 percent healthy or 100 percent sick,” DeVoll said. “It is very preventable with early detection and followup education courses. We can identify people at risk and teach them practical skills to change their lives.”

Bonnie House, RN, clinical manager at Liberty Dialysis Kauai, said there are 11 insular treatment units at the east clinic, serving around 90 people in shifts of four to five hours a day, three days a week.

Another 15 undergo hemodialysis at home on an external dialyzer, or through peritoneal dialysis through the stomach lining.

There are another eight chairs at the west clinic, serving around 35 patients. Nurses go to Wilcox Memorial Hospital to serve admitted patients who need dialysis with another two unit chairs.

“Dialysis is a huge issue and especially here on the islands, where we don’t always follow the greatest diet,” House said.

Kidney disease goes hand in hand with diabetes, she said, and the demand for dialysis has grown in recent years to the point where the clinic plans a new 24-chair unit by early 2016.

Fast food is not helping and eating the wrong things when going out is among the problems with poor diets leading to high blood pressure and diabetes, House said. 

The screening events are fairly new for Kauai, and people should take advantage of the screening as a way to work on prevention, she said.

Info: (808) 589-5903 or visit

• One in two people are at risk of kidney disease in Hawaii.

• One in seven have kidney disease in Hawaii.

• Hawaii’s rate is 30 percent higher than the Mainland.

The National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii


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