CHICAGO (CBS) – National Kidney month is a time when we look at kidney disease and what we can do to curb it.
A local group is very much involved in that effort and they tell us kidney disease affects many more people than you might think.
15 years ago, Della Major was teaching math to a group of children when, without warning, she passed out in the classroom.
Jim: "It must have been startling."
Della: "Startling is not even the word for it. You had these kids screaming, trying to figure out what was going on with the instructor."
Doctors told Della she had lupus, an autoimmune disease, and her kidneys were failing.
Jim: "What was your reaction to that?
Della: "Death. Because all of the things happening to me at once, having all these tubes, barely able to breathe. I just knew my time was up."
But after that initial shock, Della decided to fight.
"Instead of me looking at it as a negative, I started figuring out what can I do that's more positive," she said.
She went on kidney dialysis, changed her diet, and exercised. Today, Della is a volunteer for the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois -- an ally of the Foundation's CEO, Jackie Burgess-Bishop.
"It's personal for me because I lost my maternal grandmother to kidney failure when my mother was 14," Burgess-Bishop said.
In this National Kidney Month, they want us to know kidney disease is widespread.
"One in three adults are at risk for kidney disease."
Hitting communities of color even harder.
"African Americans are four times more likely to get kidney disease. Latinos, the Hispanic population are three times more likely to get kidney disease," Burgess-Bishop said.
They urge all of us to get tested for kidney disease -- adding symptoms often don't appear until the ailment has progressed.
The National Kidney Foundation Illinois has mobile units traveling the state offering examinations. Find one near you at nkfi.org/get-screened.
"If you find out that you have it, our goals to slow the progression if you are diagnosed," Burgess-Bishop said.
Nearly three years ago, Della Major had a kidney transplant. Her life is much better today.
Jim: "How do you feel?
Della: I feel great. I feel great."
"Who doesn't want to have that. I'm talking, living my life to the fullest."
The National Kidney Foundation of Illinois has a number of essential tips for staying healthy and a schedule for its mobile unit so you can get an examination.