We all enjoy celebrating small holidays like National Ice Cream Day (July 17) and Take A Nap Day (March 14), because who doesn’t like food and sleep? There are hundreds and hundreds of other national and world holidays that are celebrated that focus on other themes like careers or odd names. However, this upcoming Thursday (March 10) there are five holidays that are being celebrated; they are Mario Day, Name Tag Day, Pack Your Lunch Day, Day of Awesomeness and finally, World Kidney Day. I have nothing against packing lunches, I mean I always packed my lunch in high school, but I think we’ve lost sight of the important holidays and issues that need to have awareness brought to them. What’s “awesomeness” to me is the fact that men and women are or have struggled with kidney diseases and kidney failure and that these people are strong in the midst of kidney failure, courageous in the face of adversity and brave when they could be defeated.
Our kidneys, while small and hard to notice, are very important to our bodies. We need our kidneys to remove waste and excess fluid from our blood. One in three Americans are at risk for developing a kidney disease, but what’s even worse is that 26 million Americans have a kidney disease and so many of them are unaware. Kidney diseases often show no symptoms, until the condition is serious. Diabetes and High Blood Pressure are the leading causes of kidney disease. Americans struggling with kidney disease in later stages can experience kidney failure (renal failure), which leaves the person dependent upon someone or something else for life. These individuals are usually put on dialysis to do the work of their kidneys, which becomes physically, emotionally, and possibly financially exhausting. These strong, courageous, and brave people are expecting a kidney in order to live. But what you probably didn’t know is that the National Kidney Transplant List is filled with 100,791 individuals looking for a kidney donor, living or deceased. That means that 100,791 people have experienced kidney failure and need a new organ in order to survive and every 14 minutes someone is added to this list. So by the time you finish reading my article and a few other Odyssey articles or by the time you scroll through your newsfeed, someone is hoping that an organ will become available to them.
What so many people don’t know is how many individuals die before they receive a kidney, even though they are on the list. These heroic individuals who have experienced kidney diseases and kidney failure are fighting for their life, something they would not have imagined a few years prior. I don’t want you to finish reading this article feeling down and upset, but informed and encouraged because over 17,000 transplants took place in one year and hopefully in the future many, many more will take place. I want you to feel inspired to support these fearless human beings who daily endure much pain caused by their disease. It is also my hope that we will have more donors and people willing to help our friends in need. I’ve seen firsthand the stages from the disease, to the failure, to dialysis, to a transplant and I am amazed. Our bodies are incredible, but we need people full of “awesomeness” to step up and support those with kidney issues. It is my prayer that now you will be aware of the severity of kidney diseases and its effects, but also that you will be inspired to love those brave souls who endure more than we know, and who often do it with humbleness and a kind heart. So here’s one day out of the year that will hopefully turn into a daily event of love and awareness throughout our communities and our nation. May we not forget to celebrate our fighters and their families, and not just on March 10, but everyday that they battle with their disease.
Statistics gathered from kidney.org