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Pongia gives his support to Kidney Health NZ

Media Release – March 7, 2008

TV One’s Brendon Pongia gives his support to Kidney Health New Zealand

Brendon during a visit to Wellington Hospital's renal unit on Thursday, March 6


TV One’s Brendon Pongia is supporting Kidney Health New Zealand, in a bid to raise awareness of kidney disease.

The former Tall Black has taken on the role as ambassador for the charity (formerly known as the New Zealand Kidney Foundation) in a bid to educate people across New Zealand about the risk of kidney disease.

And with World Kidney Day taking place on Thursday (March 13), the Good Morning presenter is asking all New Zealanders, “Are your kidneys OK?”.

Around one in 10 adults have signs of chronic kidney disease (CKD), although up to 90% may be unaware.

“Kidney disease is a huge global problem and New Zealand is no different,” says Brendon, whose father Geneva, from who he was estranged, died of kidney disease.

“It’s amazing to think one in 10 adults have some form of kidney disease, yet the vast majority know nothing about it.”

While Brendon’s professional playing days are behind him, healthy living is still a priority for the former Dancing with the Stars contestant, who likes to stay active and watch his diet.

“Promoting a healthy approach to life is very important to me, but eating healthy and exercising isn’t the only message we want to get across.

“The thing with kidney disease is that you may often don’t know you have signs of it. “You may not have symptoms in the early stages, when treatment is more of an option. Sometimes it isn’t until you have moderate or severe renal failure that you know about it, and then your options are very limited.

“The only way we will increase the number of people being diagnosed early, is to get the message across to all those who are at an increased risk of kidney disease and ensure they are talking to their GPs.

“Diagnosing kidney disease is not hard, it’s a simple and inexpensive test, but it’s a test people need to be more aware of. Early detection could save your life.”

Kidney disease is an issue particularly close to Brendon’s heart as one of those groups at a greater risk of being affected is the Maori community.

“While nobody can predict exactly who will be affected, we do know what groups are more likely to be.

“I really hope we can get the message through to the Maori community, and all those individuals at a higher risk, so we can start diagnosing people earlier and less will be left with dialysis and transplantation as their only options,” says Brendon.

While anyone can be affected by kidney disease, the following groups have an increased risk: People with a family history of kidney disease People over the age of 50 People of Maori and Pacific Heritage People with Diabetes People who smoke People with high blood pressure


The Amazing Kidney – the facts

- Surveys carried out before the first World Kidney Day showed that as few as 5% of people knew where there kidneys were located in their bodies.

- Despite this lack of knowledge, the kidneys do an amazing job.

- Our kidneys are roughly the size of two fists and are located deep in the abdomen, beneath the rib cage.

- Their main job is to remove toxins and excess water from our blood.

- Everyday our kidneys filter and clean 200 litres of blood – enough to fill 20 buckets.

- In addition to this feat, the kidneys help to control our blood pressure, produce red blood cells and to keep our bones healthy.


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