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March 2022 | News

Yolando Bascuguin in this supplied photo.

“My life started when I found out I had kidney disease, because that’s when I started to appreciate life. Every day is a blessing.”

As many as one in 10 Manitoba adults are living with kidney disease but most don’t even know it. The province regularly leads the country for kidney disease, and our rates are climbing.

March is Kidney Health Month in Canada and World Kidney Day is observed on March 10th. It a great time to share the importance of early diagnosis and treatment of kidney disease, which may help delay or prevent kidney failure. When a person has kidney failure, life-sustaining dialysis or a kidney transplant is needed to stay alive.

“With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important that Manitobans with kidney risk factors don’t delay their regular doctor checkups. Ask your doctor about getting your kidneys checked in routine blood and urine tests,” said Dr. Mauro Verrelli, Provincial Medical Specialty Lead Renal Health. “Manitoba’s rates of kidney failure continue to rise so it’s important to work towards both prevention and early detection.”

Kidneys can lose 80 per cent of their function before any symptoms of kidney disease are felt. It’s very important to know about – and to regularly monitor – your kidney health before you feel sick.

Yolando Bascuguin lost half of his kidney function before he found out he had kidney disease in 2016. After he and his family moved to Winnipeg from the Philippines in 2014 Yolando tried to get life insurance in order to buy his first home. It was then that he first learned there was something wrong with his kidneys.

“I was in shock. I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t feel something weird, just minor symptoms. I lost a little weight and my urine was bubbly. I went to my family doctor and they referred me to the nephrology team at Health Sciences Centre and they found out that there was something wrong with my kidneys,” said Bascuguin. “I started my treatment there, but unfortunately my kidney function continued to fall. And after a year my function went down to 15 per cent.”

Bascuguin started on home peritoneal dialysis. With peritoneal dialysis, the blood is cleaned inside the body, using it as a natural filter. It is a more gentle form of dialysis, that lets your kidneys hold onto their remaining function longer.

After five years, when this was no longer working for him, Bascuguin switched to home hemodialysis. “It’s giving me the chance to live close to a normal life. I can do whatever I want. I just have to log 24-hours a week. I’m doing my eight hours a day for three days, but I can work full time, I can go to the park and swim with my kid and my wife, we can go camping. It’s a pretty normal life,” he added, acknowledging that as hard as it was to handle the diagnosis, it changed his life for the better.

“My life started when I found out I had kidney disease, because that’s when I started to appreciate life. Every day is a blessing.”

Some risk factors for chronic kidney disease include:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Known kidney problems
  • Urinary tract problems
  • Very frequent use of known toxins (such as painkillers)
  • Heart disease
  • Family history of kidney disease
  • Vascular disease (poor circulation)
  • Autoimmune disease (such as Lupus)

Symptoms can vary, and may include:

  • Foaming, bloody (resembling cola or tea), or cloudy urine
  • Swelling
  • Having to pee during the night
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Persistent, ongoing itching
  • Bone or joint pain
  • Decreased urine output (less than 2 cups per day)
  • Shortness of breath

There are many things you can do to care for your kidneys such as managing your diabetes, limiting alcohol, stopping smoking, taking your medications as prescribed, maintaining a healthy blood pressure, knowing if you have family history of kidney disease and aiming for a healthy body weight while being physically active and eating healthy, balanced meals.

Visit knowyourkidneys.ca to learn more. Manitobans can also to talk to their health-care provider about their kidney health. It’s time to get to know your kidneys.


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