Kidney disease is one of British Columbia’s fastest-growing illnesses, according to the Provincial Health Services Authority.
In the past 10 years, kidney disease has increased by 60 per cent in B.C. and it affects one in 10 Canadians, according to the Kidney Foundation. Known as a ‘silent’ disease, many symptoms of kidney disease remain ‘silent’ until 50 per cent of the kidney function is lost.
“And it’s incurable,” adds the Comox Valley’s Kidney Walk co-ordinator Mary Ruth Harris. “If the kidneys fail to the point where they need to be on dialysis, they need to be on dialysis for the rest of their life, unless a transplant becomes available.”
Aug. 18 will mark the Comox Valley’s third annual Kidney Walk, which raises funds for the Kidney Foundation.
Held in Simms Millennium Park, the walk will be 2.5 kilometres and go around Simms and Lewis parks. Registration will start at 10 a.m. and the walk will start at 11 a.m.
Money raised will help increase awareness about kidney disease, help with ongoing research to help improve the lives of kidney patients and provide financial assistance to help cover treatment costs. For example, the foundation has four suites in the Lower Mainland for kidney transplant patients to stay in for up to two months because they need to stay in the area for six to eight weeks after they receive a transplant.
This year’s Comox Valley walk will feature a silent auction from 10 a.m. to noon, and Harris is looking for donations from local businesses to make the auction a success. She also needs volunteers to help collect those donations, and man a booth at this Saturday’s farmers’ market at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds, where they will hand out pamphlets and talk to people about the walk.
Finally, she needs some volunteers on the day of the walk. Anyone interested in volunteering or making a donation for the silent auction can contact Mary Ruth Harris at 250-650-7575.
Harris decided to take on the role of co-ordinator because her cousin underwent a kidney transplant during her late 30s, which she received from her sister. Harris says she “felt called to help spread the word about the devastating effects of kidney disease and the need for organ donation,” pointing out some people with kidney disease die before they receive a transplant.
“The most staggering statistic for me is that while 85 per cent of British Columbians say they support organ donation, only 19 per cent have actually signed up on the registry,” she continues. “I think some people are under the impression if they have the sticker on their (driver’s) licence, that is enough.
“Well, the sticker on your licence is no longer valid. You have to mail in a registration card you can get from your doctor or you can go online to transplant.bc.ca to register.”
For more information, check out Comox Valley Kidney Walk on Facebook, or visit www.comoxvalleykidneywalk.ca.