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WIFR: Illinois task force educates public on kidney disease prevention

By Sydni Stoffregen

Published: Dec. 1, 2023 at 6:09 PM CST

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - The Kidney Disease Prevention and Education task force held a town hall meeting Thursday to raise public awareness of the disease.

Rep. Maurice West (IL-67) and Sen. Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) are co-chairs of the task force, which was established last year. They hope to provide solutions to the alarming number of kidney disease cases throughout Illinois.

“When I was asked by leadership to be part of this task force, I unapologetically said yes so that one, I could be educated myself, and two, so that I could be empowered with the knowledge and educate the community on what is out there to prevent this disease,” Rep. West said.

The ninth leading cause of death amongst Americans, kidney disease progresses at such a slow rate it is often dismissed as a side effect of growing older. People predisposed to developing kidney disease are those 65 and older, with high blood pressure and those with a family history of kidney failure.

Symptoms often include swollen limbs, shortness of breath and chest pain, high blood pressure and loss of appetite. 9 in 10 people with chronic kidney disease don’t realize they have it.

Informing the public of these symptoms the task force hopes to encourage a progressive mindset, ensuring everyone takes proper care of their health. Visiting your primary care provider at the first sign of symptoms could catch the disease before it progresses too far.

“Our big message is get tested. So that we can keep chronic kidney disease from progressing and preferably not have people have kidney disease at all.” Jackie Burgess - Bishop, CEO of National Kidney Foundation of Illinois says.

To lower the risk of developing kidney disease, experts say to increase physical activity, limit salt consumption, avoid smoking and pay attention to any changes in your body.

“It is a disease that plagues a lot people. Hopefully if they watch this they’ll be in a position where they can say to themselves, here are the things that I can change, and I know now what questions I can ask my primary physician.”

More than 3,000 people in Illinois are currently on the waiting list of kidney donation. Their wait could be more than five years. The task force encourages people to consider signing up for living organ donation.

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