The bright orange luminosity of a lit candle along with songs and poems gently filled the night air, as Kidney Centre and Grand Bahama Health Services (GBHS) teams gave support to family members and friends of those honouring their loved ones, who have passed on as a result of kidney disease during a World Kidney Day Candlelight Memorial Service held on Thursday, March 8.
Kylie Turnquest, Kidney Centre Clinical Manager shared why the service is so important to the community and raising Kidney Disease and Health awareness stating, “ The candlelight vigil is being held tonight in memory of those persons in our community as well as those from the Kidney Center, who have passed away due to kidney disease.
“Of course, it was fitting to do so this evening as today is World Kidney Day; the Kidney Centre was first established on Grand Bahama in 1985 and since then, we have found that kidney disease is on the rise in our community and we thought it was time that we come out of the shadows, as for years we have operated quietly in society.
“In light of the fact that kidney disease has increased significantly, we have determined that it is imperative to recognize those persons, who have made strides as well as those that have passed on.
“Maintaining proper kidney health is of critical importance and oftentimes we give little thought to our kidneys (two bean-shaped organs) and are unaware of their significance until they are gone; when we lose our kidneys it affects every aspect of our life, be it physically, financially, emotionally and spiritually.
“Additionally, it impacts one’s family as well as the community at large, kidney disease results in that individual losing their years of productivity and unfortunately, people do not realize that for the most part kidney disease is a preventable illness and our goal is to help them understand that, by taking good care of their health and making a few lifestyle changes such as; eating more fruits and vegetables as well as drinking more water, engaging in 30-45 minute exercise daily, ensuring attendance to one’s doctor occurs at least once annually, taking all prescribed medications on time and using the restroom when nature calls will help to prevent the development of kidney disease.”
Pointing out the fact that it is challenging to get persons, who have been diagnosed with kidney disease to accept the fact that there is something wrong, due to the stigma attached to what the press puts forth about the illness, Turnquest said too many people think that they are going to die once they are diagnosed with kidney disease and that is not necessarily true.
She noted depending on the stage of diagnosis, such individuals can go on to live long, healthy, productive lives with the right treatment and support of their family and the wider community.
Furthermore, she explained that kidney disease is a chronic illness, which means once a person is diagnosed with any of its five stages, the damage done cannot be reversed and while such individuals would have to live with it for the rest of their lives, proper treatment and management of the disease as well as consistent support play a significant role in living a fairly normal and healthy life.
“Of course there will be instances where those with kidney disease would have moments when they are down,however the support of family and friends and a spiritual counselor could mean a world of difference particularly, when they need a shoulder to lean on.
“Persons with kidney disease are oftentimes viewed as different, based on the scars they receive from surgery for treatment ports; it is unfortunate that they are gawked at in public, as there are many walking around whom the wider community has no idea the individual is dealing with the ups and downs of kidney disease, specifically as far as dialysis treatment is concerned.
“As a community we need to take away the stigma attached to kidney disease and treatment, cease and desist from making persons feel less than, because they have to deal with this plight, as many may not have been able to detect what was going on in their body.
“Being supportive is vital, as those scars and treatment ports are what helps the individual to continue to live, as a matter of fact they are that person’s lifeline for how they receive their treatment.
“Definitely, I urge all to be sensitive to persons living with kidney disease as well as their family and to do their best to seek out educational materials to raise awareness about Kidney Disease and Health as well as work together to stop the increase of persons being diagnosed with the illness,” Turnquest said.
Studies have shown that most people do not know that they have kidney disease or any impairment in kidney function due the illness taking affect very subtly.
Kidney disease it ranges from Stage 1 to 5 and unless a person visits their doctor on a regular basis ensuring complete annual checkups are done, studies also indicate that typically the individual would more likely find out at the third stage.
According to the Kidney Centre Clinical Manager, “It is at that particular stage when the person begins to witness and experience significant symptoms, inclusive of shortness of breath, fatigue, changes in their urine, changes in sleep patterns and weight loss among other signs.
“When persons who are diabetic or hypertensive do not take their medication on time and in the prescribed dosage, as diabetes and hypertension are the leading causes of kidney failure, those out of control levels impact the kidneys more, speeding up the damage, which remains with them forever.
“Additionally, persons taking Nephrotoxic drugs and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), which include ibuprofen (Aleve etc.,) do not know that frequent use of them also impacts the kidneys and of course such persons are more likely than not among the senior population, who are challenged by arthritis and other chronic pain therefore, it is imperative that they too are educated and attend their doctor on a regular basis so they can be advised as to what they need to do.”
Holding fast to one another, Turnquest along with Kidney Centre Clinical Liaison and Water Technician, Dr. Simmona Cummings and Roger Gremming, respectively thanked all those who came out demonstrating their support and honoring not only those who have passed on but the survivors as well, as professionals who have made significant strides in treating and educating the public about kidney disease.
A number of activities will be held to further heighten the community’s awareness and knowledge of kidney disease, the work of the Kidney Centre and to assist all in getting on the right track as far as kidney health is concerned revealed Turnquest, who said, “On Saturday March 10, the Kidney Centre will host its Annual Kidney Walk/Run beginning 5:30 a.m. leaving the grounds of the facility, then on Sunday March 11t, we will host an Open House and Health Fair beginning at 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. right here at the Kidney Center, which would help in removing the mystery as to what we do and the treatments offered.
“Later on in the month we will host an Introduction to Dialysis Course beginning on Friday March 23r at the Kidney Centre from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and on Saturday March 24 at 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. for persons recently diagnosed with kidney disease.
“We encourage the public to give us their full support and to wear orange throughout the remainder of March, which is Kidney Health & Awareness Month, as it is the color associated with the illness.
“Again we thank all in advance for their support, particularly our partners, sponsors and teams and invite everyone to embrace this year’s Kidney Health & Awareness Month theme, ‘Show Your Kidneys Some Love’ and also to learn more about Kidneys & Women’s Health being sure that we embrace inclusion, value and empowerment through knowledge of the same.”