Members of the community joined Lynette Luckers at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on City Avenue to attend the 4th Annual Marion Luckers Kidney Foundation benefit dinner on Sunday.
Attendants filled the Grand Ballroom of the hotel, where they enjoyed food, fellowship and an opportunity to hear from both health care professionals as well as those struggling with kidney disease.
During the event, Luckers gave an account of the Foundations activities and showed a video of last years Benefit Dinner.
Dr. Neils Martin, co-medical director, surgical intensive care unit of the University of Pennsylvania Hospital served as the keynote speaker and spoke about the impact of kidney disease on African Americans.
“I can’t tell you how many people I see who come in for appendicitis or some other medical issue and we take their blood pressure and its amazingly high and that person has no problem that it was so high,” Martin said.
Martin told the audience that by the time some patients find out that they have problems with their blood pressure they have already developed other physical complications as a result.
“It’s really important that you know about these problems, because you really need to be diligent, you really need to catch it early so that we can treat them before other damage is done,” Martin said.
Hypertension and diabetes are two of the leading causes of kidney failure and, according to statistical data, the numbers of those experiencing kidney disease are growing exponentially.
“Once you develop these conditions, it’s a slow, but downward spiral to kidney failure,” Martin said.
He described the challenges facing those who suffer from chronic kidney disease and are required to receive dialysis treatment three times a week for four hours each treatment.
“You can’t go anywhere for a long period of time because you always have to be near a dialysis center so it really impedes you ability to go vacations or cruise ships or things of that nature; it really changes your life,” Martin said.
Even the process of being dialyzed requires often painful procedures to enlarge veins.
“This disease afflicts African-American communities more than it really does any other community,” Martin said.
Although African Americans consist of just 13 percent of the population of the United States, they make up 53 percent of those with chronic kidney disease and to compound the problem, they are less likely to be organ donors than other nationalities.
“The best treatment out there is kidney transplantation. It really is not just life saving, but it also changes your life; it almost turns you back to the life you led before you suffered from kidney failure,” Martin said.
He recounted having spoken with patients who have received transplants and were delighted by the fact that they were once again able to urinate after receiving their kidney. Things taken for granted by most become very significant to those with the disease, said Martin.
A silent auction in which attendants had an opportunity to bid on items such as gift baskets was also held in support of the Foundation and several people were awarded honors including Veronica Gibson who received the “Volunteer of the Year” award, Kim Philips the “Community Activist” award” and Elizabeth Gonzalez, a double amputee who was unable to attend because of illness but received the “Unsung Hero” award as well as a financial assistance award of an unspecified amount.