UAMS Physician Key in Creating First World Kidney Day March 9

By todd

LITTLE ROCK — The first-ever World Kidney Day will be recognized March 9, thanks in part to the efforts of University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) physician Sudhir V. Shah, M.D. Shah, a member of the World Kidney Day committee, is professor of medicine and director of the Division of Nephrology in the UAMS College of Medicine.


The observance comes as the kidney transplant program at UAMS marked its busiest year ever in 2005, setting program and state records with 84 kidney and kidney/pancreas transplants. With the addition of a new transplant surgeon, Youmin Wu, M.D., the program is expected to continue expanding.


“We’re pleased with the growth of the organ transplant programs and still believe there is the potential to help more people,” said Wu, director of the UAMS Multi-Organ Transplant Program and professor of surgery in the UAMS College of Medicine. “Teamwork is critical to transplant surgery since there is a lot of pre-transplant preparation and post-transplant care.”


Wu joined the UAMS faculty in 2004 to set up the state’s first liver transplant program, which accomplished its first transplant in May 2005. He also performs kidney transplants and joined Gary Barone, M.D., director of the kidney transplant program, who had been the only kidney transplant surgeon at UAMS.


The idea for World Kidney Day was developed by UAMS’ Shah and other members of the International Federation of Kidney Foundations and the International Society of Nephrology to draw attention to the global pandemic of kidney and associated cardiovascular disease. Starting this year, World Kidney Day will be recognized on the second Thursday in March.


“Most people with chronic kidney disease or hypertension are not diagnosed until long after the illness has developed. To make matters worse, people in most parts of the world do not have access to maintenance hemodialysis treatment or kidney transplants that can prolong their lives when end-stage kidney failure occurs,” Shah said.


The primary function of the kidneys is the removal of waste from the body through the production of urine. The kidneys also help regulate blood pressure, blood volume and the chemical composition of the blood.


Kidney disease is easy to detect with simple, routinely available tests and can be effectively treated with intensive blood pressure control, glucose control in diabetic patients, lipid-lowering medications and the use of kidney-protective medications.


Certain medical conditions – including diabetes, high blood pressure, lupus and polycystic kidney disease – can lead to chronic kidney failure. For many chronic kidney failure patients, transplantation is the only treatment.


Lorenzo Jones III, 53, of Pine Bluff had his kidneys fail as a result of high blood pressure – a condition that ran in his family. After four years of dialysis, Jones, a retired agent for the Internal Revenue Service, needed a kidney transplant.


His wife, Jacqueline, proved a match and on Nov. 9, 2005, he received one of her kidneys in a transplant operation.


“I feel great. I’m getting stronger,” Jones said recently. “I also feel very strongly now about the importance of monitoring your own health. Know the risks and dangers and be aware because by the time it was discovered that my kidneys were failing – it was too late.”


Barone said awareness of organ donation also will allow the UAMS transplant program to continue growing and helping more patients.


“We had a good year in 2005 and awareness about the good that organ donation can do played a role,” Barone said. “A successful transplant program requires teamwork – both with the transplant team, UAMS and with our organ procurement agency, the Arkansas Regional Organ Recovery Agency.”


Developed countries treat more than 1 million individuals for kidney disease annually, with as many as 250,000 new cases each year, Shah said. And although some evidence suggests that end-stage kidney disease cases are slowing, the number of persons with type II diabetes is increasing. About 40 percent of these patients also will develop kidney disease and its associated risk for cardiovascular disease, while 10 percent will develop end-stage kidney disease.


“It is our hope that World Kidney Day will bring important information about kidney disease to people throughout the world, particularly those in disparate economies where the need is greatest,” Shah said.


UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a medical center, five centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has about 2,320 students and 690 medical residents. It is one of the state’s largest public employers with almost 9,000 employees, including nearly 1,000 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital and the VA Medical Center. UAMS and its affiliates have an economic impact in Arkansas of $4.3 billion a year.