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Prince George’s County a hot spot for kidney disease


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Photo by Dana Amihere. Patricia Clover, 64, of New Carrollton, gets her blood glucose levels checked as part of Kidney Action Day held Sept.15 in Landover.

Photo by Dana Amihere. Patricia Clover, 64, of New Carrollton, gets her blood glucose levels checked as part of Kidney Action Day held Sept.15 in Landover.

Published on: Wednesday, September 26, 2012

By Dana Amihere

Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., is on a mission: no more kidney dialysis centers.

“God bless the people who provide those services, but every time another one opens it signals that we’re not doing what we need to do to fight this disease,” she said.

Edwards knows first-hand the toll kidney disease can take on a family. She watched the disease take her father’s life after years of dialysis treatment and struggled to support her mother in a care-giving role.

Among Marylanders, this isn’t a singular occurrence. Parts of the Washington metropolitan area, including Prince George’s County, have a disease rate more than twice the national average. For the area’s black and Hispanic populations, the incidence is as much as four times higher.

The American Kidney Fund, founded in the Washington metropolitan area 40 years ago, works to reverse this regional trend with outreach programs such as Kidney Action Day held earlier this month in Landover — a kidney failure “red zone,” according to the AKF.

AKF president and chief executive officer, LaVarne Burton, says education and prevention are two of the best weapons to fight this disease.

“We can use events like this to help folks better understand their risks and what they can do about this risk,” Burton said. “This is a highly preventable disease. Some would say that 90 percent of cases can be prevented.”

New Carrollton resident Patricia Clover, 64, says her age, race, personal and family history were what prompted her to take advantage of the event’s free health screenings for hypertension and diabetes, two conditions which increase the risk of kidney disease. With an uncle on dialysis and a cousin in need of a new kidney, Clover said, “I’m not taking any chances.”

This kind of proactive attitude is what Burton says she likes to hear.

“If we can target that (at-risk) population, that would be such an accomplishment,” she said.

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