Kidney Talk Internet Radio Show Helps Patients and Families Learn About and Deal with Kidney Disease

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The non-profit, patient-run and patient-focused Renal Support Network (RSN) marks World Kidney Day March 13 and International Kidney Month during March by spotlighting its Internet radio show Kidney Talk (http://www.RSNhope.org), hosted by TV actor and producer Stephen Furst (St. Elsewhere) and RSN founder/president Lori Hartwell.

The non-profit, patient-run, patient-focused Renal Support Network (RSN) will be broadcasting two special programs on its "Kidney Talk" Internet radio show (http://www.RSNhope.org) in March, as part of International Kidney Month activities being held around the world. "Kidney Talk" (http://www.kidneytalk.org/video/index.php) is hosted by actor/director/producer and kidney-transplant recipient Stephen Furst (Animal House, St. Elsewhere, Babylon 5) and RSN founder/president Lori Hartwell, who lived with serious kidney disease for 39 years and wrote the book Chronically Happy--Joyful Living In Spite Of Chronic Illness.

One "Kidney Talk" episode features Dr. Steve Woodle, the pioneering transplant surgeon who performed Furst's kidney operation and who has himself been a liver transplant recipient. Another follows the ways a family coped with the father's kidney disease and dialysis treatment in positive ways. The father, a physician, co-authored the book Dialysis Without Fear with his wife and daughter.

A new "Kidney Talk" episode appears at RSN's Website (http://www.RSNhope.org) every other Tuesday (also on iTunes). Visitors to the site can click on "Kidney Talk" and enjoy any of the 60-plus programs that have aired since June 6, 2007. RSN also provides its programs on CDs.

" 'Kidney Talk' allows Stephen and me an opportunity to empower the kidney community as we interview a variety of patients, family members and professionals who share their stories and let listeners know that you can live a joyous life, despite this illness," Hartwell explains. "We have interviewed people from all walks of life, including entertainers Howie Mandel and Sinbad, best-selling novelist Jodi Picoult (The Tenth Circle, My Sister's Keeper), chef Katie Lee Joel (Billy's wife), actress Alexa Vega (Spy Kids, Twister) and musician (and fellow kidney patient) Peter Quaife of The Kinks--who creates cartoon books about dialysis. Our show was created to inform the community in an entertaining way, while clarifying confusing issues (such as translating Doctor-speak into understandable terms)."

Kidney disease is more common than many realize, affecting people of all ages. If the ailment is left unchecked, kidneys stop working altogether, and the person needs either blood-cleaning dialysis or a kidney transplant. Close to 400,000 people in the U.S. are currently on dialysis, and about 70,000 are waiting for a transplant. More than 26 million adult Americans have some form of chronic kidney disease--more than one in seven. Diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity are the main causes.

"Most people with kidney disease don't know they have it and are unaware of the most common warning signs of kidney disease--foamy urine, mental confusion, headaches, nausea and vomiting--so we are making a mini-movie about them," Stephen Furst explains.

"If you have any of these conditions, ask your doctor for a simple blood test called a Glomerular Filtration Rate assessment (GFR)," Hartwell urges. "One of the goals of Kidney Month is to encourage people to get tested and learn how to prevent or delay chronic kidney failure."

If left undiagnosed, Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD: the progressive loss of kidney function over time) can lead to End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD: total, irreversible loss of kidney function, requiring lifetime dialysis or a kidney transplant).

Lori Hartwell has had 37 kidney-related surgeries in 39 years, was on dialysis for 12 years and has received three kidney transplants. Her last transplant has lasted almost 18 years. She loves co-hosting "Kidney Talk" with Stephen Furst.

"Stephen has incredible energy, talent and enthusiasm, and he is consistently very funny," Hartwell declares. "This show is what it is because of Stephen. I never know where he is going to take us. He often sends zingers to me, requiring me to quickly find a polite, hopefully intelligent response. I am very proud of 'Kidney Talk', because it conveys a lot of important information in a fun, easily understood manner--and because it gives people who have kidney disease and their families hope, by showing them the ways that others successfully cope with this challenging illness."

On March 13, 2008, World Kidney Day will be observed around the globe. Its purpose is to raise awareness about the importance of our kidneys and to show that kidney disease is treatable. Last year, celebrations occurred in 66 countries. This year, Renal Support Network is taking on many activities with patient members to raise awareness of kidney disease, by requesting proclamations from elected officials, public speaking and sending letters to the editors of local papers, as well as using web resources and its own website.

About RSN:
Renal Support Network (RSN) offers informative, often entertaining patient-directed programs that bring health, happiness and hope into the lives of others affected by chronic kidney disease, whether in its early stages, on dialysis or after a kidney transplant. RSN programs include Renal Teen Prom (to be next held in Washington, D.C. on May 10, 2008), "Kidney Talk," Kidney Times, KidneySpace, weKAN, HOPEline, PEPP Patient Speakers, Patient Meetings, Live & Give Newsletter, and much more. RSN is a non-profit, patient-run organization that strives to help others develop their personal coping skills, special talents and employability, by educating and empowering them, as well as their family members, to take control of the course and management of the disease. Visit http://www.RSNhope.org for more information.

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CHARLES BARRETT
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