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Screenings for 'silent killer' of city's black ethnic population.

Byline: By Rhona Ganguly

Birmingham played host to a Kidney Research UK Community Screening Day at the weekend.

The aim of the session at the Aston Pride Community Health Centre on Saturday, was to begin work to screen up to 500 black African or Caribbean people in the city for chronic kidney disease (CKD).

It was the first of many planned for the coming months and is part of a national pilot being conducted in partnership with the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, with sponsorship from pharmaceutical companies Roche and Amgen and technical support from Siemens.

People wishing to be screened have been asked to walk in to any of the sessions, which will be run every Saturday, without an appointment.

There they will have their height, weight and blood pressure checked and will be asked to give blood and urine samples.

Organisers of the first screening day at the weekend said the pilot was essential as CKD affects about three million people in the UK, many of whom are unaware of the condition.

Identifying the disease is easy, but it often goes undetected as sufferers often display no symptoms.

People with a family history of the disease, people with hypertension - high blood pressure, or diabetes and certain ethnic groups - Black Africans, Caribbeans and South Asians - have a higher risk of developing CKD.

Early detection, however, can have a significant impact on patient outcomes because there are treatments that can slow down the progression of the disease, delaying the need for dialysis.

Dr Sam Mukherjee, GP at Aston Pride, said: "We're delighted to be able to support the first screening programme of this kind in this very important pilot. We want to use this occasion to increase the awareness of the disease amongst the high-risk groups in the local community and we would ask anyone who feels they may be at risk to come forward and be assessed."

Dr Dwomoa Adu, the principal investigator for the screening pilot, described kidney disease as a "silent killer", which can cause a lot of suffering to individuals if left undiagnosed.

"If we can find sufferers in the early stages, we can manage the condition and avoid the need for dialysis and even transplantation," he said.

"The way to do this is through the targeted screening of high-risk groups. That way we can identify people with CKD, before they reach a critical stage and help them to manage the condition with medication and lifestyle changes. This is the right thing to do for both the patient and the NHS."

The session was attended by Birmingham lecturer Beverley Maynard.

Mrs Maynard, from Kings Norton, had a kidney transplant in 2000, after her husband donated a kidney.

During a routine eye examination, her optician said something was wrong with her organs and she was sent for a number of investigations at hospital.

She was then told she was suffering from kidney failure. Both her husband and brother proved a match for a transplant.

Lending her support to the campaign, she said: "The main message to get across really is the importance of early screening, simply by monitoring your blood pressure, looking at height, weight and age.

"The earlier that can be detected, you can manage the problem for quite a while. It is particularly an issue in the Afro-Caribbean community and early intervention can be very useful.

Since my transplant, I have raised money for kidney research UK. Last weekend, I took part in the Women's Five Mile Challenge so I'm very involved in the campaigning part of things."

Further Community Screening Days are also being run in London and in Oldham, with a fourth site expected to be announced soon. If the programme proves successful, it could provide a model for nationwide risk assessment.

For information, call the Kidney Health Information Line on 0845 300 1499.

rhona.ganguly@birminghampost.net

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Kidney transplant patient Beverley Maynard Picture, JASON SKARRATT
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Sep 15, 2008
Words:654
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