Celebrating International Womens Day and World Kidney Day on 8th March 2018

This year World Kidney Association teamed up with International Women’s day to make ‘Kidneys & Women’s Health’ their focus for 2018.  Read more to learn about this disease and why women are less likely to receive kidney transplants and what changes are being made.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a progressive decline in kidney function over time. When kidney function falls below a certain point, it is called kidney failure, which can be life-threatening.  CKD affects 195 million women worldwide and is currently the 8th leading cause of death in women (ref http://www.worldkidneyday.org/2018-campaign/2018-wkd-theme/).  .

While the risk of developing CKD is comparable between men and women, the number of women on dialysis is lower than that of men (ref as above).  Three major reasons are recognised which may contribute to this lack of parity: 

1. Slower disease progress in women

2. psycho-socioeconomic barriers such as lower disease awareness lead to late or no start of dialysis among women

3.  Uneven access to care is a major issue in countries with no universal access to healthcare. 

The best treatment for many people with severe CKD is to receive a kidney transplant, which often results in a better quality of life and improved survival rates compared to patients who use alternative treatments such as dialysis.  However, evidence suggest that transplantation is also uneven between men and women, and even in countries where there is equity women are more likely to donate kidneys than men, and unfortunately, less likely to receive them [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28532558]/ In view of the above, and following Wales’ and more recently, Scotland’s decision to move to an ‘opt out’ approach, the UK Government has closed its consultation process on organ and tissue donation, which requested views on adopting a similar ‘opt out’ system for England. The consultation proposed that people should be considered willing to be an organ donor after their death, unless they have ‘opted out’ Read more on the consultation here.  

You can learn more about becoming an organ donor at the following link: https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/.

If you or members of your family are already registered as a donors, you can update your organ donor status in your iPhone’s health app under “Medical ID”.