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Southern Illinoisan: Celebrating World Kidney Day

Updated: Mar 15, 2023

ANNA — The National Kidney Foundation of Illinois joined with Shawnee Community College and Mid-America Transplant Services to host a community health fair on World Kidney Day at the Shawnee College Extension Center Thursday.

Local health care agencies and organizations distribute information to attendees as part of health fair held in conjunction with World Kidney Day at the Shawnee College Extension Center on Thursday in Anna. Byron Hetzler

World Kidney Day is a day to celebrate kidney health and promote awareness of kidney disease across the globe. Here are a few kidney disease facts:

  • In the U.S., 37 million adults are estimated to have chronic kidney disease, but the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois believes hundreds of thousands of people are not aware of their condition.

  • Kidney disease is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. In Illinois, it is the ninth.

  • The current wait time in Illinois for a deceased donor kidney is between five and eight years.

Volunteers from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois pass out boxes of fresh produce to attendees during a health fair as part of World Kidney Day at the Shawnee College Extension Center on Thursday in Anna. Byron Hetzler

Angelique Marseille, program manager for the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois, said the group was hosting two World Kidney Day events. Besides the one at the Shawnee College Extension Center in Anna, they had another event in Melrose Park.

While screening for kidney disease was not available at the health fair, they were checking blood pressure, BMI, hearing and vision.

“Diabetes and hypertension are the leading causes of kidney disease,” Marseille said.

She added that the KidneyMobile® will come to Anna to do screenings from noon to 4 p.m. on March 22 in room 134 at Shawnee Community College’s Anna Extension Center. Screenings will include blood pressure, blood sugar, body mass index, waist circumference, urinalysis and a blood draw (if necessary).

To register, visit More information is available from the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois at 312-321-1500 or

Many community organizations offered giveaways and educational material for those attending the health fair.

Attendees first saw Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois outside the front doors of the Anna Extension Center.

Gary Farnam, unit manager for Blue Cross in Marion, said they partnered with the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois to help the community.

"We are handing out fresh produce; avocadoes, cucumbers, lettuce, kale, oranges and lemons, along with chicken quarters and a recipe card," Farnam said, adding that it especially helped those who had recently lost the government's pandemic addition to food stamps.

Inside, Illinois Migrant Council, an organization that focuses on serving Hispanic people in our region, gave away 20 desktop computers at the health fair.

Miguel Sarmiento, director of migrant services, said this was the organization’s fifth computer giveaway. They started with laptops for students during the pandemic.

“People have been very happy,” Sarmiento said.

The group also had information on diseases and preventing diseases.

Mandy Palmer of Shawnee Community College said the health fair was a good event to offer the community.

“This is a good way for people to get services they might not get otherwise and educate them as well,” Palmer said

Other organizations included Cairo NAACP, Rural Health Inc., Carbondale NAACP, Shawnee Mass Transit District, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, Arrowleaf, Shawnee Health, Egyptian Area Agency on Aging, Epsilon Lamda Omega Sorrority, Lion’s Club of Cobden and Mid-America Transplant Services.

“We’re primarily asking if people have had COVID vaccines,” Faith Miller of the Carbondale NAACP said.

Yaya Heller of Shawnee Health said the organizations provides health care, but it also works to eliminate barriers to health care.

“Language is one of the major barriers to health care,” Heller, who is bilingual, said. “Interpreter services are limited in Southern Illinois.”

Shawnee also has SHIP counselors who are licensed by the state. They can assist seniors with choosing health care.

In addition to health information, the organizations gave away hand sanitizer, face masks, Narcan kits, first aid kits, stress balls, exercise bands, oral health items, dish washing liquid and other items.

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