Published March 12, 2020.
We observe World Kidney Day to raise awareness of the increasing burden of kidney diseases worldwide and to strive for kidney health for everyone, everywhere. Between eight and 10 percent of the adult population have some form of kidney damage, and every year millions die prematurely of complications related to chronic kidney diseases (CKD).
Because PKD usually doesn’t cause symptoms that are obvious to others, many people may be surprised to learn that you are living with a chronic kidney disease. Taken from our January issue of PKD Life, here are some tips to help you raise awareness about PKD.
Have an elevator speech
When Judy Ehrlich, who has ADPKD, was hospitalized with a liver infection, she decided to explain her absence to her co-workers. Ehrlich, the New England Chapter coordinator of the PKD Foundation, didn’t want to go into detail, so she kept it short and sweet. “I said I inherited a kidney disease from my mother that causes fluid-filled cysts to grow on my kidneys over time and that it can interfere with kidney function,” says Ehrlich, the financial manager of a dental practice. If you want to share more details about how it affects your life, that’s up to you.
Seize the moment
Most people probably don’t know a lot, if anything, about PKD, and if they do, they may have misconceptions about kidney disease and assume, say, that you are on dialysis. Sharing information about the disease can be useful for clearing up misconceptions and raising awareness in general. If you’re very lucky, it can even benefit you personally, as someone might offer to get the word out if you need a transplant. Ehrlich’s experience in this regard was unusual and extraordinary. When she revealed to a friend that she would need a kidney transplant, the friend offered to donate one of her kidneys—an act of generosity that has changed Ehrlich’s life.
Don’t feel obligated
You shouldn’t feel pressured to reveal that you have PKD. Whether you want to, and when you want to, is entirely your decision.
Read the full issue or subscribe to future issues of PKD Life here.