The Inspiring Turnaround Of A Renal Patient’s Life

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By Sharleen Mohammed

SOMETIMES life takes an unexpected turn and out of the blue completely new routines have to be established.

Life has to be redefined to some degree but every challenge gives you a chance to grow.

With the support of family, friends, and specialist doctors, life can continue on its new path.

This is the story of 32 year-old Salam Godfrey Chinyere who is living with chronic kidney failure and has been dialysing for four years.

“I received a diagnosis of renal failure when I was 28 years old, this was tough for me considering my age. Even though I was born a tough fighter, I fell into a deep depression.

“It was a very depressing time. I went through a crisis. No matter what I thought, I never knew what was going to happen next,” he recalls.

Salam is one of the 852 million people who are dependent on dialysis globally.

He narrated the challenges he experienced as a chronic kidney disease patient were many.

In spite of it all, he persevered, sticking to his treatment schedules, honoring appointments, and ensuring that his health remains his priority.

He spoke of the availability of dialysis services at Parirenyatwa Hospital and explained that persons on dialysis have the option of undergoing kidney transplant surgery.

Today, Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating World Kidney Day (WKD), a day campaign aimed at raising awareness of the importance of kidneys to our overall health and at reducing the frequency and impact of the disease and its associated problems worldwide.

To raise awareness of this silent epidemic, the Ministry of Health and Child Care with support from its partners commemorate WKD on the second Thursday of March every year.

This year’s commemorations are running under the theme “Bridge the knowledge gap to better kidney care.”

“From the day I was diagnosed with kidney failure and had my first dialysis, I have not looked back since then,” said an elated Salam.

“I am one of the people who are dependent on dialysis in Zimbabwe and benefiting from the free dialysis offered in Harare.

Before then, Salam traveled 293km from his rural home to get dialysis which drained him both physically and financially until his church, assisted him with accommodation closer to his dialysis centre.

“The recurring trips to the centre were very tiring and exhausting, and also restrictive because I could not live my life as spontaneously as I sometimes like to do,” said the soft-spoken Salam.

“Moreover, the prospect of physical improvement, greater well-being, and better blood values naturally prompted me to continue to dialyse. I am delighted with all the support I have had and continue to have, every step of the way.

As if that is enough, Salam sufferers from Hypertension, and is on medication.

“For my wife, family, and friends, the whole situation took some getting used to at first but they too supported. They notice a fitter, more present, and I can do anything I want, such as cleaning the yard and working in the garden,” he added.

“Beforehand, I was always too exhausted and slept a lot, even during the day.”

Kidney disease is common in both developed and developing countries.

Despite one in 10 people having kidney disease, treatment and prevention efforts to stern this potentially fatal condition are far from adequate in rich countries, offers near non-existent in poor countries.

Chronic kidney disease kills an estimated 1,2 million people each year, while acute kidney injury is thought to cause a further 1,7 million deaths.

According to Global Burden Studies of Disease, chronic kidney disease is the 12th leading cause of death worldwide, ahead of tuberculosis (13th), HIV (14th), and malaria (21st).

Prevention of Kidney disease

Kidney diseases are silent killers, which will largely affect your quality of life. There are, however, several ways to reduce the risk of developing this kidney disease.

Keeping fit and active

Keeping fit helps reduce blood pressure and reduces the risk of chronic kidney disease. Exercising frequently helps to reduce obesity.

Keeping control of your sugar level

About half the people who have diabetes develop kidney damage, so it is important for people with diabetes to have regular tests to check their kidney functions. Kidney damage from diabetes can be reduced or prevented if detected early. It is important to keep control of blood sugar levels with the help of local health workers.

Monitor your blood pressure

Many people may be aware that high blood pressure can lead to a stroke or heart attack, few know that it is also the most common cause of kidney damage. The normal blood pressure level is 120/80. Between this level and 129/89, you are considered pre-hypertensive and should adopt lifestyle and dietary changes. At 140/90 and above, you should discuss the risk with your doctor and monitor your blood pressure, level regularly. High blood pressure is especially likely to cause kidney damage when associated with other factors like diabetes, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease.

Eat healthy and keep your weight in check

This can help prevent diabetes and other conditions associated with chronic kidney. Reduce your salt intake, the recommended sodium is 5-6 grams of salt per day ( around a teaspoon) to order to reduce your salt intake, try and limit the amount of processed and restaurant food and do not add salt to food. It will be easier to control your intake if you prepare the food yourself with fresh ingredients.

Do not smoke

Smoking slows the flow of blood to the kidneys. When less blood reaches the kidneys, it impairs their ability to function properly. Smoking also increases the risk of kidney cancer by 50 percent.

Do not take over the counter pills on a regular basis

Common drugs such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibrufen are known to cause kidney damage and disease if taken regularly. Such medication probably does not pose significant danger if your kidneys are relatively healthy and you see them for emergencies only, but if you are dealing with chronic pain such as arthritis or back pain, work with your doctor to find a way to control your pain without your kidney at risk.

Maintain a healthy fluid intake

Drink at least one and a half to two liters of safe water every day.