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March is Kidney Awareness Month–the time to highlight a disease that affects more than 30 million Americans. It’s important to know the risk factors of chronic kidney disease, like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and family history of kidney disease, among others. Kidney disease can also be caused by glomerular diseases, autoimmune disease, or can be a genetic disease. Kidney disease usually has no early symptoms. Therefore, it’s important to be tested. While there is no cure, it can be treated, and many cases of kidney disease are preventable.

Our Division of Nephrology and Hypertension and the UNC Kidney Center at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill are working together to reduce the incidence and burden of kidney disease, focusing on enhancing and integrating first-in-class research, providing outstanding patient care, and training the next generation of leading kidney specialists. Nationally recognized nephrology experts maintain and continuously expand a robust clinical, translational and basic research portfolio that encompasses acute, chronic and autoimmune diseases of the kidney. Patients receive world-class care that incorporates the latest medical findings while being treated in a compassionate, patient-centered environment.

Here are just a few highlighted educational resources created by the UNC Kidney Center, featuring UNC faculty and patients.

Dialysis Research Video

Research can create better futures for people on dialysis, those who care for them in clinics and those who care for them at home. However, many aspects of dialysis research can be improved. Diverse dialysis stakeholders have identified increasing research knowledge among patients and clinic personnel as key to fostering research ready clinic cultures.

To help promote research readiness in dialysis clinics, Dr. Jenny Flythe and an interdisciplinary research team developed a 9-minute video to teach patients and clinical staff about research and generate enthusiasm about dialysis research. The video features a dialysis patient and nurse and its content was informed by input from over 75 stakeholders, including almost 30 patients and care partners. The video answers such questions as “What is research?”, “How do researchers keep study participants safe?” and “Why might I want to participate in research?”

A product of the study is a new video tool Flythe hopes will generate awareness by sparking new conversations about dialysis research in the clinical setting.

Kidney Transplant Patient Story

As part of the Department of Medicine’s recent podcast series, “Understanding Organ Transplant,” Dr. Ron Falk welcomes Kevin Howell, who is a kidney transplant recipient. Kevin shares his story about getting sick and the challenges he had accepting reality. He talks about being on dialysis while working full-time, finding an unexpected kidney donor, and his recovery to health.

Topics include:

A State of Denial * Juggling Dialysis & Career * Finding a Kidney Donor * Recovering and Returning to Health

Kidney Transplant Podcast

Dr. Ron Falk welcomes two UNC transplant experts to discuss kidney transplant; they cover topics including benefits of an early transplant, living versus deceased donor organs, preparation and recovery from surgery, and more related topics.

Dr. Alex Toledo is an Associate Professor of Surgery in the Department of Surgery at UNC, and Dr. Karin True is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension at UNC.

Topics include:

Transplant Team * Benefits of Early Transplant * Living and Deceased Donors
Deceased Organs * Length of Surgery & Recovery * Conversations for Finding a Living Donor * Selena Gomez and Living Kidney Donation * What Dr. Toledo and Dr. True Like Best About Their Job

Listen to the podcast and access transcripts here.

Patient Engagement Video and Podcast

Celeste Castillo Lee shared her work in patient engagement with the University of North Carolina in October and November of 2016; she gave a presentation at UNC Nephrology Grand Rounds as well as an interview with Dr. Ron Falk in an audio podcast.

Celeste shared her personal journey with end stage kidney disease, her path to engagement and advocacy in the kidney community, and her vision for a health care system strengthened by meaningful patient, provider, and staff partnerships. In December of 2016, she gave an interview with Lori Hartwell at RSNHope about choosing hospice.

Topics discussed in Celeste’s podcast interview include:

What is patient engagement, and what it means to Celeste Lee * Advice to patients to become advocates for themselves *If the patient is the driver how to help physicians know that they are passengers * Advice Celeste would have given her 17-year-old self * The ups and downs of being a caregiver * and more.

These presentations can be accessed on the UNC Kidney Center website.

David Cole’s Story

David Cole shares his story in this podcast on how he went from a very healthy athlete, to a person diagnosed with kidney disease. And then, how his life changed after having a kidney transplant. Dr. Ron Falk interviews David about his experiences with kidney transplant, his life as an athlete, and promoting awareness of organ donation issues.

David founded and organizes the Raven Rock Ramble, a 100-mile bike ride which promotes awareness of organ donation issues, and benefits the UNC Kidney Center.

The 17th Raven Rock Ramble is on May 6, 2018.

Listen to the podcast and access transcripts on the UNC Kidney Center website.