Since COVID-19 reached the U.S., normal day-to-day life has come to an unprecedented, screeching halt. While work, school and commerce have slowed, what we have learned—and continue to learn—about COVID-19 is moving at what seems like light speed.
Several short months ago, few people were wearing masks in public because we assumed only those individuals showing symptoms were contagious. We found misplaced comfort in the hypothesis that children are less severely affected by the virus than adults. And we focused on the respiratory implications of the virus—with little expectation that COVID-19 might ravage the body in other ways.
Healthcare providers and scientists have learned so much, so quickly, about this virus that continues to evolve. Perhaps one of the most surprising is the impact COVID-19 has on the kidneys. Early anecdotal stories about renal infarction and frequently clotting dialysis machines quickly revealed that one of COVID-19’s most lethal surprises is infection and hypercoaguability that can cause acute kidney injury (AKI) and kidney failure in individuals with no prior history of kidney disease.
It’s frightening to think that someone with no prior history of renal disease could suddenly lose kidney function as a result of a COVID-19 diagnosis. It’s even more frightening to imagine all that we still don’t know.
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For the millions of Americans already living with kidney disease and kidney failure—many of them minorities with other health problems—COVID-19 has brought a host of frightening unknowns. How much of a greater risk is there for individuals with common co-morbidities like diabetes and heart disease? What role does ethnicity play in mortality rates? Does one’s existing chronic kidney disease mean they are more likely to suffer from AKI if they contract COVID-19?
These are critical questions that members of the kidney community are committed to addressing as part of our ongoing efforts to safeguard the health of Americans with kidney disease. The disparities and challenges they face—even in the best of circumstances—make rapid research and investigation all the more important as we continue the uphill battle against COVID-19.
During this extremely difficult time, Americans with kidney disease and kidney failure need a safe way to receive care and meet their basic needs—like transportation to dialysis, nutrition, medications and appropriate personal protective equipment. That’s why groups like the National Renal Administrators Association are supporting providers with education, resources, and open forums to discuss challenges and learn from one another in order to provide optimal patient care. That’s why they are also engaging with policymakers to ensure that the needs of kidney patients are considered in emergency orders, regulations and legislation.
If the past several months are any indication, we are likely to…
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