Serving Mississippi’s Kidney Patients for 50 Years
Kidney disease is a growing epidemic, with some 26 million Americans currently suffering from the disease and millions more at risk. That is one in every nine adults in this country. To bring these statistics closer to home, Mississippi has one of the highest rates of kidney disease in the nation, and at this time, there are over 6,000 Mississippians on dialysis. To understand why our state is so hard hit by kidney disease, we have to look at its most common causes – obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. Mississippi leads the nation in both obesity and diabetes, and obesity is now the fastest growing cause of kidney disease. What’s more, kidney disease disproportionately affects African Americans, who are four times more likely to develop kidney disease.
Since 1965, The Mississippi Kidney Foundation, now in its fiftieth year, has been working to assist kidney disease patients by providing crucial programs and services, from patient education to crisis intervention funding and patient conferences for dialysis patients and kidney transplant recipients. Among other services, each year the Foundation conducts anywhere from twenty to twenty-five free kidney disease screenings throughout the state, to identify people with kidney disease so they can get appropriate treatment.
Another role of the Foundation, which is no less important, is to promote awareness and educate about kidney disease, its risk factors and the importance of early detection and prevention, with a goal of bringing down the incidence of kidney disease in the state. To help with this task, the Foundation has enlisted the help of NFL Hall of Famer and Mississippi native Jerry Rice, whose brother Tom has kidney disease and is on dialysis. As a spokesperson for the organization, Rice has appeared in Public Service Announcements that have run throughout the state, encouraging people to get tested for kidney disease. He also has supported the Foundation financially, recently presenting the organization a check for $10,000.
Left to Right Standing: Lynda Richards, MKF Director of Patient Services; Gail Sweat, MS Kidney Foundation Executive; Director; Lee Parrott, President-Elect of the MKF Board of Trustees. Seated: Johnny Maloney, MKF Board of Trustees President.
Well-Being spoke to Gail G. Sweat, Executive Director of the Mississippi Kidney Foundation about why kidney disease is such a devastating condition and how they are working to mitigate its destructive hold on Mississippians.
“Early kidney disease has no symptoms, so there is no way to know that you have it,” Ms. Sweat notes. “That’s why screening is so important. All too often people have unknowingly had the disease for years and by the time they are diagnosed they are already in kidney failure.”
“Knowing the risk factors can mean the difference between letting your kidney disease go undetected, and getting proper treatment,” Sweat continues. “The primary risk factors are diabetes (accounting for about 45% of those diagnosed), high blood pressure (accounting for 35%) and a family history of kidney disease. Since there are no early symptoms, screening with a blood or urine test, is the only way to know if someone has kidney disease. The Mississippi Kidney Foundation is committed to making sure Mississippians have access to screening tests. That’s why we conduct free screenings in communities all over the state.”
The work of the Mississippi Kidney Foundation depends largely on contributions from people around the state. Since the Foundation disaffiliated from the National Kidney Foundation in 2007, 100% of the money raised through grants and donations stays in Mississippi to assist Mississippi patients and promote awareness. The Mississippi Kidney Foundation is “Making a Difference in Mississippi,” touching the lives of thousands of patients each year through their programs and services, and reaching countless others directly and indirectly by educating the population about the dangers of kidney disease.
DID YOU KNOW?
Date the MS Kidney Foundation Was Chartered: 1965
Mission: To serve Mississippi kidney patients to provide quality programs and services, public education and screening to promote the prevention of kidney disease, and to promote organ donation throughout the state.
Type of Organization: Non-Profit
Staff: Gail G. Sweat, Executive Director; Lynda Richards, Director of Patient Services
Dialysis patients in Mississippi served each year: 6,000
Programs & Services Provided: • Statewide Patient Conferences • Statewide FREE Screenings for Kidney Disease (REAP) • Crisis Intervention Fund for Dialysis Patients • Crisis Intervention Fund for Kidney Transplant Recipients • Transportation Assistance Program (TAP) • Annual Kidney Connection Calendar • Southern Comforts of Mississippi Cookbook • Medical Identification Jewelry • “Invest in Your Future” GED Program • Kidney Patient Connection Newsletter • “Are You at Risk?” CKD Awareness Program • Kidney Transplant Awareness Campaign • Annual Patient and Family Picnic • Nutritional Supplement Program • Holiday Party for Pediatric Nephrology Patients • Binder Reminder Pillboxes
For more information or to make a donation visit www.kidneyms.org or contact the organization at: Mississippi Kidney Foundation, 3000 Old Canton, Suite 110, Jackson, MS 39216; PO Box 55802, Jackson, MS 39296; Phone: 601-981-3611; Toll Free: 1-800-232-1592