Make 2014 a Healthy Year–Get Your Kidneys Checked!


causes of ckd

People with early CKD tend not to feel ill or notice any symptoms. The only way to find out for sure whether you have CKD is through specific blood and urine tests. Once detected, CKD can be treated with medicines and lifestyle changes, including making healthier choices about what you eat and drink. These treatments usually decrease the rate at which CKD worsens, and can prevent additional health problems.


  • Without treatment, your diseased kidneys may stop working after a time, a condition called kidney failure.
  • Once your kidneys fail, you either have to have regular dialysis, in which a machine filters your blood like healthy kidneys would, or have a kidney transplant.

Risk factors for developing CKD

Adults with diabetes or high blood pressure, or both have a higher risk of developing CKD than those without these diseases. Approximately 1 of 3 adults with diabetes and 1 of 5 adults with high blood pressure has CKD. Other risk factors for CKD include cardiovascular disease, obesity, high cholesterol, lupus, and a family history of CKD. Your risk of developing CKD also increases with age, as these risk factors are more common at older age. Men with CKD are 50% more likely than women to have kidney failure.


from the Centers For Disease Control

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A Mother’s Instinct


Listen to my neighbor describe how a mother’s instinct and perserverance saved her daughter’s life!




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Pumpkin Has Many Health Benefits, but Dialysis Patients Beware!

pumpkins in light

What to do with all of those left over pumpkin decorations?

They are edible remember? And it turns out that they are a relatively nutritious fall food. According to the Huffington Post:

A cup of cooked, mashed pumpkin contains more than 200 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which aids vision, particularly in dim light, according to the National Institutes of Health.


Pumpkins are also rich in carotenoids, the compounds that give the gourd their bright orange color, including beta-carotene, which the body converts into a form of vitamin A for additional peeper protection.


Pumpkin is an often-overlooked source of fiber, but with three grams per one-cup serving and only 49 calories, it can keep you feeling full for longer on fewer calories.


Nuts and seeds, including those of pumpkins, are naturally rich in certain plant-based chemicals called phytosterols that have been shown in studies to reduce LDL or “bad” cholesterol.


Like their orange comrades the sweet potato, the carrot and the butternut squash (to name a few), pumpkins boast the antioxidant beta-carotene, which may play a role in cancer prevention, according to the National Cancer Institute.



The same free-radical-neutralizing powers of the carotenoids in pumpkin that may keep cancer cells at bay can also help keep the skin wrinkle-free, Health magazine reported.


Pumpkin seeds are rich in the amino acid tryptophan, the famed ingredient in turkey that many think brings on the need for that post-Thanksgiving feast snooze. While experts agree that it’s likely the overeating rather than the tryptophan lulling you to sleep, the amino acid is important in production of serotonin, one of the major players when it comes to our mood, WebMD reports. A handful of roasted pumpkin seeds may help your outlook stay bright.


Ever heard of bananas being touted as nature’s energy bar? Turns out, a cup of cooked pumpkin has more of the refueling nutrient potassium, with 564 milligrams to a banana’s 422.

As always, check with your doctor for advise about adding pumpkin to your diet.


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My Hero is Jeff Lewis

My brother, Jeff Lewis

My brother, Jeff Lewis

December 14 2000 my brother became more than just a great brother and friend, he became my HERO by donating his left kidney to me so that I could

 watch my son grow up

meet my niece

write a book

. . . have more time!

Watch as others tell the story of their HERO. Then decide to become a hero yourself.

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Join us to raise money to ‘Restore Life’ through transplant at the UM Vita Redita

2013 Vita Redita Auction & Gala in Jack Roth Suites at Michigan Stadium.


Please join us for the most elite fundraising event in support of Transplant patients and their families in the State of Michigan.
The 11th Annual Vita Redita (Latin for Life Restored) Gala Dinner and Auction will be held on Saturday, September 28th at Michigan Stadium in the Jack Roth Stadium Club. Join us for a night in celebration and support of the University of Michigan Transplant Center. Proceeds will help fund medical research, our patient emergency fund, our education and outreach initiatives and the Transplant Center’s own summer camp for children who receive transplants, Camp Michitanki.

Tickets are $200 per person ($100 tax deductible) and include an over-the-top strolling dinner, premium open-bar with signature cocktails, live music, over 100 first-class silent auction items and a live auction with one-of-a-kind lots.
Tables of 8 are available at $1500! Other sponsorships are available as well. Please contact to get more information.

Guests at the Vita Redita include directors and CEO’s of numerous Michigan corporations, physicians from around the state, transplant recipients, organ donor family members and more. Your participation will be a highly visible example of your generous support of such an important institution in our transplant community.

If you are interested in donating an item for auction please email or call the events office at 734-232-0594.
2013 Vita Redita Gala and Auction

Saturday, September 28th

Michigan Stadium, Jack Roth Stadium Club 6pm

Black Tie Optional

Vita Redita pic


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Camp for kids with transplants!

A diverse group of kids...all living with an organ transplant.

A diverse group of kids…all living with an organ transplant.

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I’m so glad that WDIV got a chance to witness this special time for kids with transplants. Each year that I have seen the camp videos at the Vita Redita (a benefit fundraiser for Camp Michitanki), my eyes well up to see kids who spend so much of their time in clinics and hospitals and surgery–just to live, experience what it is like to be a normal child.

What I know however, is that these children will grow up to be very strong willed, smart and productive members of our society. Think about it. At 7, 8, 12…15, these kids already understand pretty complicated medical terminology and how their illnesses react and how to treat them. For many of them, it is not just one illness, but many.

Why am I so sure of their future? I was a 7-year old girl diagnosed with diabetes who at 28 developed renal failure and whose life saved by my brother via a kidney transplant. Reflections of my own life tell me that my diabetes set the tone for my organization skills, need for factual data and most importantly that the need to get more requires that you work harder!

You can donate to Camp Michitanki and enjoy a fabulous evening at the University of Michigan’s Big House by attending the Vita Redita, a black tie gala, silent and live auction; Saturday, September 28, 2013. For more information call 734-232-0594, or email

There is no better place to be than the Big House in the fall, helping kids with transplants live a week of relative normalcy!

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Spice Up Your Diet with 7 Kidney–Friendly Seasonings

Kidney friendly spicesfrom the National Kidney Foundation Newsletter.

Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, MA, RD
Duane Sunwold

Spices and herbs have long been used to improve the taste, aroma and appeal of food. Now there’s evidence that these kitchen staples not only please our palate, but they may actually help improve our health. Research shows potential benefits of spices and herbs, which are rich in antioxidants and excellent sources of other vitamins and minerals. Modern science has begun to examine the compounds that make up these herbs and spices, and to date, more than 2,000 of them have been identified in herbs and spices. Many spices and herbs even contain nutrient levels comparable to fruits and vegetables!

It’s easier to cut back on sugar, salt and fat when you have flavorful replacements that are also kidney-friendly. This way, it doesn’t feel like you’re missing anything! And because these herbs and spices are easy to incorporate into everyday meals, there’s no need to wait for a special occasion to start shaking things up in your diet! The National Kidney Foundation offers 7 Kidney-Friendly Seasonings to Spice Up Your Diet:

  1. Rosemary: This herb supports brain health, memory and cognition. Not sure how to use rosemary? It’s easy. Before baking frozen dinner rolls brush the tops with olive oil and sprinkle them with crushed rosemary leaves. You can also try to add a Tuscan twist to chicken or vegetable soup by sprinkling in a little oregano, thyme and rosemary.
  2. Garlic: Garlic has both antibacterial and antioxidant benefits. For a boost of flavor and nutrients, add garlic powder or crushed garlic to pasta, rice or cooked vegetables. You can also give garlic bread a healthy makeover by mixing olive oil with fresh garlic or garlic powder and brushing it over Italian bread. Broil the bread for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Oregano: Like many leafy greens, oregano is high in vitamin K, which supports bone and blood health. Sprinkle oregano on your garlic bread for that traditional “pizza flavor” without the potassium that tomatoes contain. You can also mix oregano and garlic powder to easily add herbs to pastas and stir fries.
  4. Chili: Chili peppers are a good source of vitamin A, which contributes to eye and skin health. Recent research has shown that consuming chilies may also give your metabolism a boost. If you typically shy away from spicy foods, there are many ways to incorporate chilies into your diet without burning your tongue. A “spice spectrum” exists to help you distinguish the milder chilies from those with a kick. From most to least spicy: cayenne, crushed red pepper, black pepper and paprika are some chilies to try. Easy ways to add them to your diet include sprinkling paprika over deviled eggs, tuna or chicken salad or adding cayenne pepper to your favorite vinaigrette. Please note that extra vitamin A is not recommended for those with kidney failure.
  5. Ginger: This root has been known to aid in digestion and to help with nausea. Ginger has many anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and pain relief properties that make it a great addition to your diet. Often found in Asian recipes, ginger is easy to add to poultry and fish marinades. It can even be added to fruit salads and it complements green tea and lemonade.
  6. Cinnamon: According to recent research, this spice may help to regulate blood sugar. Cinnamon can be easily added to applesauce, cream of wheat or even sliced raw or baked apples for a delicious and healthy snack!
  7. Basil: Basil adds a burst of flavor without adding high amounts of potassium or phosphorus. It’s easy to include basil in everyday meals. Try basil leaves instead of lettuce on a sandwich or shred and use as garnish
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The Journey from Dialysis to Transplant Webinar 7/23/13 at 7 pm

Join me Tuesday, July 23 at 7 pm for a webinar on tips to remain healthy while on dialysis and be prepared for transplant.

This webinar will discuss the very restrictive renal diet and how to comply. We will discuss energy zappers and ways to build energy. Few people only manage their health while on dialysis, and so we will talk about keeping a busy schedule while on dialysis. And if dialysis is pending for some, how to choose the type of dialysis best suited for you.

Register Now at:

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Energize Yourself with the Kidney Diet

(photo from

(photo from

Reprinted from

By Susan Dombrowski, DaVita® dietitian

Your energy level doesn’t have to go down just because the sun does. You can have sustainable energy throughout the day, even after work or a dialysis treatment—it may be easier than you think.

You are what you eat on the kidney diet

What you eat greatly affects your energy level. Meals that are too high in refined carbohydrates and lacking in protein may lead to a quick rise in blood sugar, followed by an equally rapid drop, making you feel less energetic just an hour or two later. On the other hand, a well-balanced and kidney-friendly meal with healthy carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables and healthy grains) coupled with a good source of protein (fish, poultry, egg whites, lean meat, protein powder or a supplement) can help keep blood sugar on a more even keel and keep you mentally alert.

Timing means everything when you need energy

When you eat is also a factor in how your energy level is regulated. Skipping meals will leave your energy flagging, too. Since food fuels all activity—both physical and mental—you’ll have a hard time functioning if your tank is empty. If you skip a meal, you’ll likely be tempted to grab the quickest food available, and if you stop at a fast food restaurant or convenience store it is often less nutritious. If you are pressed for time when you need to eat, try to avoid highly-processed foods loaded with sodium and phosphorus additives, such as packaged foods.

Plan to keep healthy snacks around such as low-potassium fruits and vegetables, nourishing grains and easy-to-grab sources of protein. If you lack time for a healthy meal, a protein bar can be used as a meal replacement and is a great alternative that provides convenient and delicious nutrition in minutes. Talk to your dietitian about which protein bars are appropriate for your kidney diet.

Exercise, the kidney diet and energy

Fitness is another factor that determines how much energy you have throughout the day. People who are fit utilize energy more efficiently; therefore they have more energy to get them through the day.

Sometimes people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) may say that they feel too tired to exercise, but the answer to getting out of the slump is increasing their amount of activity. When your energy is lagging, regular exercise can lead to better and more restful sleep, meaning you store up more energy to use the next day. It may sound ironic, but the more you exercise, the more energy you’ll have.

Eat, exercise and energize

Knowing what to eat and when to eat it along with better fitness can be the recipe you need to help you garner more energy. You’ll accomplish your goals more effectively, which leaves you with time to spare for things that matter to you most.




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The show must go on…despite kidney disease!

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