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Get checked early to prevent need for kidney dialy

11 June 2004

Get checked early to prevent need for kidney dialysis

Auckland, 14 June 2004 – During Kidney Awareness Week (14 – 20 June 2004), the New Zealand Kidney Foundation is encouraging people at risk of developing kidney disease to visit their GP and get checked to ease the escalating demand on overstretched dialysis resources.

New Zealand rugby great Jonah Lomu fully supports the campaign. “It is important that people take responsibility for their health and change their lifestyle to be kind to their kidneys. Had I not kept in good physical shape and followed the advice of my doctors, I may have had to start dialysis a lot sooner.”

Numbers of New Zealanders entering kidney failure programmes have increased more than 40% in the last 5 years, with just under 1700 people in New Zealand currently on dialysis or awaiting a kidney transplant. The problem is acute in Maori and Pacific Island populations with certain kidney diseases who are five times more likely to suffer from kidney failure.

Dr David Voss, kidney specialist at Middlemore Hospital and Chairperson of the Auckland Branch of the New Zealand Kidney Foundation believes early identification and treatment of kidney disease will prevent or delay the need for dialysis and kidney transplants. “Kidney disease is a silent killer – many of the people I see have lost 80% of their kidney function by the time their symptoms start to show.”

It is not uncommon for people to lose up to 80% of their kidney function before developing any symptoms and seeking medical assistance. Kidney disease often causes no symptoms at all or symptoms that are non-specific and may be attributed to other causes. It is important high risk groups have regular kidney checks before irreversible damage is done.

The New Zealand Kidney Foundation is encouraging people with a family history of kidney disease, over the age of 50 years, of Maori or Pacific Island heritage, a current smoker, or with high blood pressure or diabetes mellitus to visit their GP for a simple, painless kidney check. “Early intervention is crucial if we are to manage kidney disease, ease the demand on renal facilities, and enable limited resources to be better directed,” said Dr Voss.

The rising incidence of kidney disease reflects an international trend related to the increase in people with type 2 diabetes and the aging population. The resulting pressure on renal facilities is further compounded by the shortage of kidney specialists worldwide and throughout New Zealand.

Kidney Awareness Week will be promoted from 14 – 20 June by regional foundation and branch members. A number of information stands and displays will be arranged to promote the week and encourage those at risk to get checked now. For further information and support contact the New Zealand Kidney Foundation on 0800 KIDNEY (0800 543 693) or

Kidney disease in New Zealand A person can lose as much as 80 of their kidney function before feeling unwell Diabetes mellitus was the most common cause of end-stage kidney disease in 2002 New Zealanders entering kidney failure programmes increased by 41% in the last 5 years Approximately 1700 New Zealanders are on dialysis Dialysis costs about NZ$50,000 a year per patient 350 – 400 New Zealanders are on waiting lists for kidney transplants


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