National Kidney Foundation helps those in need


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The National Kidney Foundation of Florida in Orlando, with offices in Cocoa Beach and Miami, holds free kidney screenings..

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Kidneys are natural filters, removing harmful waste material from the bloodstream and balancing the body’s fluids. In most people, a healthful, balanced diet will keep the kidneys working smoothly.

When that is not the case, there is help available.

The National Kidney Foundation of Florida in Orlando, with offices in Cocoa Beach and Miami, provides monetary aid, advice and fundraisers to help those with kidney problems.

The month of March is National Kidney Month.

“We provide information on the transplant list, what they can do to get on the list, what to do post-transplant and dialysis,” said Savanna Lanza, CEO of the National Kidney Foundation of Florida. “Because patients receive transplants, the transplants don’t last their whole life, so coaches help to try to keep the kidney healthy.”

Proper diet helps. Fruits and vegetables that improve kidney function include grapes, cranberries and blueberries, and fennel, onions, celery, beets, spinach, string beans and asparagus.

The foundation provides financial help with two funding programs — one is called direct patient aid where dialysis patients can apply and “we fund them for food, gas and transportation services for dialysis treatment or cover their rent or utilities bills,” Lanza said. “They apply every month and we go over applications and deem where we can send funds for needs.

“The other side of what we have a fund for is post-transplant patients, actually sending checks to the patient and made out to the pharmacy for the drugs needed once they have a transplant.”

The kidney organization advocates for living donors to be that person who could donate a kidney or sign up to be an organ donor. Free kidney screenings are available where patients can go and get their kidneys checked and get to talk to a professional consultant, getting all the information results at the screening.

“Some 93,000 people in the United States are on the waiting list for a kidney,” Lanza said. “Not all of the people wait 10 years for a transplant. Once you are on the list, you are not off unless you are not being compliant to keep the body in a healthy state. You have to be pretty healthy to receive a transplant.”

“Basically, to get a transplant, you have to find the right donor,” said Joe Karan, director of patient advocacy for the foundation and a kidney transplant recipient. “You can, though, get a kidney that is not a perfect match.”

The transplant does not last a lifetime, so patients can go through the process again.

To raise money to support their projects, the foundation sponsors a Labor Day weekend annual Rich Salick Surf Competition at Cocoa Beach. Phil Salick, foundation operations manager, named the competition for his twin brother to whom Phil Salick donated a kidney. His twin had three transplants before his death. The foundation also holds 10 kidney walks and three golf tournaments a year to raise funds.

For more information, contact the foundation at 407-894-7325 or email mkf@kidneyfla.org. 

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