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Format: 04/24/2014
Format: 04/24/2014

News

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Experts: Crucial to get on waiting list as soon as possible

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

By Andrew Conte and Luis Fabregas

Tribune-Review

Aaron Cannon believes there's a good chance he would have a new kidney by now.

Problem is, he didn't realize he could get listed for a transplant at the early stages of his illness.

Even though he was diagnosed with kidney disease five years ago, it wasn't until two months ago that Cannon completed the required evaluation to be listed.

"I could've gotten on the list sooner," said Cannon, 29, of Iowa City, Iowa, who was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease, focal segmental glomerulosclerosis. "I"m still a little bit annoyed about that."

Faced with sudden symptoms brought on by kidney disease, patients often rely on doctors for education about potential treatments. As they cope with the shock of such a serious illness, they frequently are confused and sometimes don't know what questions to ask, said Dr. Martha Pavlakis of Harvard University's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

"Some people think of a transplant and they think of Frankenstein. ... They are horrified," she said. "I feel like somebody needs to get out there and educate the providers, doctors, nurses, patients and the community at-large about transplantation and how it can improve your life."

Almost all kidney patients should be evaluated for transplants, said Pavlakis, who believes patients should be referred before they "start feeling the effects of kidney failure."

Two months ago, Jerry Mitchell of Mt. Oliver started the often lengthy process of a transplant evaluation. Mitchell was diagnosed with kidney disease in May 2005 and started dialysis treatments in February 2006.

"The main focus was, 'Let's get you on dialysis first,' " said Mitchell, 38.

Mitchell and Cannon said their lives would be different if they had been listed sooner.

The dialysis treatments interfere with Mitchell's ability to work and manage his cleaning business. He goes to the Fresenius Clinic in Mt. Oliver on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, staying longer than three hours for each treatment.

"It's hard to find a nice job that you can do a few hours a week," he said.

To read more, visit the Tribune-Review web site.

 

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