Selena Gomez received a kidney transplant from her friend Francia Raisa this summer. How many people even knew that she needed one? What an incredible gift! However, over 100,000 people remain on the kidney waiting list, and 12 people will die each day while they wait for a kidney to become available.
If your kidneys fail, dialysis or a kidney transplant are the available options to replace the function of your own kidneys. There are multiple conditions that can cause the kidneys to fail: including diabetes, hypertension, inherited diseases, and autoimmune diseases such as Lupus (the condition Selena Gomez was diagnosed with).
Lupus is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks its own organs and tissues. It can involve the skin, joints, and other organs such as the kidneys. When it involves the kidneys, it is called lupus nephritis. There are millions of Americans who have been diagnosed with lupus, and the condition can range from very mild to very severe. It primarily affects younger women of childbearing age, but can affect men and people of all ages. Although lupus often involves the kidneys, it seldom leads to kidney failure.
If a kidney transplant is necessary, it is important to make sure that the underlying disease is controlled or in remission. Age is usually not a contraindication to the procedure. However, there are a series of tests done before the surgery to make sure an individual is healthy enough to withstand the surgery.
There are two types of kidneys that can be transplanted. Those from a living donor, or from a deceased donor. Both require an evaluation process for compatibility. However, if a kidney is donated from a living donor, this can save an individual years of time, due to bypassing the waiting list. It may also allow an individual to avoid dialysis in some cases. Typically, the costs to donate an organ are covered by insurance. There are also programs in place to cover other related costs due to travel and hospitalization.
Organ transplantation doesn't make the news often, however celebrities have the ability to shine a bright light on conditions that affect ordinary Americans every day. To the 100,000 people waiting patiently for a kidney, this may encourage a possible living donor to step forward for an evaluation and find out if they may be suitable. This would not only save years on a waiting list, but could potentially save a life.
If you would like to learn more about donating a kidney, visit the National Kidney Foundation at https://www.kidney.org/transplantation. If you would like to know more about lupus and if you may be at risk, visit https://www.lupus.org.
Dr. Karla Vital is a Board Certified Nephrologist and Bariatric Medicine Physician who is accepting new patients in Houston, Texas. She can be reached for questions or comments about this article at www.vitalwellnesstoday.com, on Twitter @drkarlavital, or on Facebook @vitalhealthandwellness.
She is also now seeing patients via telemedicine at rowedocs.com.
Author: Karla Vital, MD