Dealing With Kidney Disease

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Kidney disease impacts more than 1 in 7 Americans, according to the CDC. 

Though lifestyle changes can help manage the disease, it's often difficult to detect. 

Fifteen-years ago Scott Brunk was diagnosed with kidney disease. Since then he has had he's pancreas transplants and he's kidney transplants. 

"Kind of the unstable management of the diabetes was kind of the major cause of the kidney failure," Brunk said. 

Brunk has dealt with type-1 diabetes for more than 40 years.

"In the United States the most common reason for kidney disease is actually related to diabetes and hypertension, diabetes being most common," Dr. Christina Lankhorst said. 

Lankhorst says kidney disease is hard to spot, but because of Brunks underlying diabetes condition he was already being screened.

"Sometimes the swelling in the legs, we can start seeing that. But that's the hard thing with kidney disease, it's very silent to begin with," Lankhorst said. 

"First signs that I saw was face, hands, and legs edema. Decrease in urination, blood in the urine," Brunk said. 

As the disease progresses your kidneys begin working overtime.

"You know, you go from stage 1 renal failure, stage 2 renal failure, and I'm at stage 4 renal failure right now," Brunk said. 

Through a healthy lifestyle Brunk has been able to manage the disease over the years.

"You want to be very careful with how much ibuprofen, aleve, advil, those kind of medications that can affect a kidney long term. But otherwise drinking lots of water, staying hydrated, watching the amount of sodium that you get in your diet," Lankhorst said.  

Not only is Brunk paying close attention to his grocery lists, now he's watching another list. 

"Hopefully before dialysis comes is that I will be transplanted with a kidney," Brunk said. 

It's been almost a year since Brunk was added to the kidney donation list, but research on the disease is lacking.

The U.S. is spending a large amount of money on treating people with the disease rather then investing into clinical research. 

Lankhorst says a lack of funding and knowledge is to blame. 

"The hard part with kidney disease is we don't really know what it is that starts a lot of these things so it's hard to know, where do we start the research for that," Lankhorst said. 

Brunk hopes people will consider being a living donor. 

"It can make a life saving difference," Brunk said.

For information on how to become a living donor, click here.

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