An Update from UKRO on the Coronavirus

Dear Friends of UKRO,

We hope this finds you and your loved ones well and coping successfully with the coronavirus.

Everyone in the world is experiencing an especially difficult challenge in the form of this pandemic, but for those in the community of kidney patients, these are even more dangerous times. Most kidney patients have compromised immune systems which makes them especially vulnerable to the pernicious and rampaging nature of this virus. Kidney patients require regular and frequent blood and urine tests, monitoring, and medical appointments, and this is especially true regarding recipients of kidney transplants. Hemodialysis patients must go to clinics three or four times a week for three or four hours at a time to have their blood detoxified, putting them in the close company of other patients and numerous dialysis nurses, technicians, and related personnel. Other frequent tests require kidney patients to go to hospitals and clinics for imaging and radiology, thus making it difficult for them to stay safe.

The coronavirus has put a spotlight on vulnerable individuals, such as those suffering from other serious illnesses, the immune suppressed, the elderly, and has turned what used to be routine medical appointments into scary trips with the risk of exposure to people or environments carrying the virus. Social distancing becomes difficult or impossible in such circumstances. These problems impact family members of kidney patients and make much more difficult the already burdensome requirements of helping them with their needs.

Every night our television sets provide an all too sober picture of how unprepared our country and most others were and are to deal with a pandemic affecting large and heterogeneous populations and how limited our local, state, and federal resources are in countering this kind of medical emergency. For too long we have not invested in our public health infrastructure and its capabilities to deal with and defeat major pandemics.

Of late we have all been engulfed with grim statistics of the numbers of people infected with the virus and the tragic actual or anticipated death toll. In the kidney world we are all too familiar with other alarming statistics, such as the more than 470,000 Americans who depend annually on kidney dialysis to survive, and the approximately 95,000 Americans desperately awaiting a kidney transplant. These numbers have been with us for decades and, like the coronavirus, won’t go away until we find medical therapies or a vaccine or other cures through medical research.

The lesson in all of this is the paramount importance of medical research.

Research in these areas is expensive and time consuming, and as we have in the past, we must be persevering in pursuit of solutions to these devastating diseases. The eradication of these diseases must become national medical priorities. Our world, and especially the United States, are blessed with vast numbers of academic and commercial research institutes and laboratories which must be fully mobilized in the effort to unlock both the causes of the coronavirus and all forms of kidney disease. While kidney diseases fortunately do not represent the existential threat posed by the coronavirus, nevertheless the suffering and misery caused by kidney diseases most certainly is more than sufficient incentive to us to make every effort to place the fight against kidney disease high up on our list of key public health objectives.

We wish to thank all of you for your continued support for UKRO and your long commitment to battle kidney disease. We will continue to provide updates on our activities and achievements on our website, as well as informative articles and source materials concerning kidney health.

Human life has been threatened in the past by scourges such as small pox, tuberculosis, polio, malaria, HIV, measles, whooping cough, diphtheria, hepatitis A + B, and conventional influenzas, among others, and in due time medical science came to our rescue and we survived. We are optimistic that the same thing will happen regarding the coronavirus despite the horrendous worldwide impact it is having.

We urge all of you to be cautious and follow the directives of our medical professionals in dealing with your daily activities and responsibilities, and we look forward to the day when we can again greet you personally and thank you for your support for UKRO and kidney research at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

Stay safe and healthy,

Ken Kleinberg

Dr. Vito M. Campese

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