With your help, we can meet each New Challenge head on


Curbing kidney disease key goal for Sun columnist

By Kerry Auriat, Kerry Nation

Brandon Sun, Saturday, June 3, 2017


This week, I was fortunate to travel to Israel to participate in the Rambam Health Care Campus annual summit, of which I have written before. This world-class academic hospital is located in the beautiful city of Haifa, Israel, and I proudly serve on the board of directors of the Canadian Friends of Rambam.


The focus of the summit was kidney health, and I came away with a new understanding of the significant impact of this disease on our population today and projected into the future.


It’s not a particularly "sexy" disease, and so it doesn’t typically get the attention and thus the type of funding that cardiac or cancer issues do, but according to experts,

approximately 10 per cent of the global population suffer from kidney disease. That rate is even higher in our First Nations communities.


One major contributor to Rambam, in fact, noted that he is required to receive dialysis treatment for four hours daily, five days a week. This really came home to me this week when the contributor, who was slated to receive an award, was unable to attend due to dialysis treatments back home. This truly humanized the impact of this disease for me.

The impact of the disease on his family was evident in the voice of his adult daughter, who described her father’s daily challenges in living with kidney disease.


Imagine — sitting in a chair, hooked up to a machine. I didn’t know what dialysis was, but my understanding, simply put, is that this is the process of removing waste and excess water from the blood of people with kidney failure. Not only is dialysis time-consuming, it has no cure, and it’s no fun. It’s known as a "holding measure" until the patient can undergo a kidney transplant. However, there are many patients who are not candidates for a transplant for many reasons, so dialysis can go on for years.


Even if we don’t talk about so many other significant quality-of-life issues, it is very challenging for a sustainable career, raising a family or completing an education.


Imagine further if the dialysis unit were not in your community. For many residents of small towns and First Nations throughout our province, this is exactly the case.


Travel and treatment alone can easily consume eight hours a day, a minimum of three days a week. Think of the economic burden to the individual, then the family, and now multiply it to our health-care system and, finally, society in general.


Given that diabetes is a major risk factor for kidney disease, and rates of diabetes continue to escalate, we are facing an unsustainable burden on our health-care system.


The only answer is prevention. After all, this disease is typically not curable, but it is treatable, generally at a significant cost to society. Moreover, chronic kidney disease can lead to other health-related issues including heart attack and stroke. With it is an ever-increasing burden to the family and the taxpayer.


The timing and topic of this conference was a great coincidence as, In recent months, Shur Gro owner Ron Helwer and I have teamed up with the Kidney Foundation to help do our part in Brandon. We will soon be commencing a fundraising effort, and an educational effort, to help Brandonites understand the importance of kidney health.


Helwer and I want to raise awareness and educate Manitobans about the challenges of kidney disease. We have several important goals — from low-cost strategies focused on education, to expensive treatments and transplants. We must work together to make the lives of those living with kidney disease more rich and hopeful while helping the next generation of Manitobans avoid this challenging disease.


To support the New Challenge Campaign – Challenging Limits*Changing Lives please click on one of the links:


Westman Campaign

Manitoba Campaign


To Learn more about the New Challenge Campaign – Challenging Limits*Changing Lives contact the Kidney Foundation of Canada, Manitoba Branch at val.dunphy@kidney.ca or 204-989-0808.




Manitoba Branch - 1-452 Dovercourt Drive, Winnipeg MB R3Y 1G4 - Tel.: (204) 989-0800 
Charitable Registration Number: 107567398RR0001