Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders Highlights Kidney Disease Risk for African Americans

New York, NY (March 5, 2007) - March 8th may be just a typical Thursday to some people. But if you're one of the 20 million Americans who have Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and don't know it, March 8th or World Kidney Day, may be the day that saved your life. Former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders is joining forces with the National Kidney Foundation to get the word about risk factors and early detection.

The National Kidney Foundation is eager to see people embrace March 8 by learning more about their parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters; in fact, any blood relatives. In the process, relatives may discover fascinating things about each other, and may realize that a family member suffers from high blood pressure, diabetes or even chronic kidney disease itself.

Due to high rates of diabetes and high blood pressure – the leading cause of kidney disease- African Americans have an increased risk of developing CKD. The disease is a potentially fatal condition, often called a "silent" killer since so many people are not aware they have it until it’s too late.

“African Americans constitute about 32 percent of all patients treated for kidney failure in the U.S., but only about 13 percent of the overall U.S. population,” said Elders. “Anyone with high blood pressure, diabetes, or a family history of kidney disease is at risk and should have his or her kidney function tested.”

To make early detection of CKD as easy as possible, the foundation is offering free screenings on March 8 in (at least) 30 cities around the country. The Kidney Early Evaluation Program, or KEEP, screenings are especially designed for at-risk individuals.

The second annual World Kidney Day, observed during National Kidney Month in March, is part of an international effort to focus attention on these vital organs, and to raise awareness. Dr. Joycelyn Elders will be taking part in a campaign to promote early detection for kidney disease and the importance of knowing family health history throughout the month.

To find out the foundation’s schedule of free KEEP screenings around the country, visit To receive a free “Am I at Risk?” brochure, call the National Kidney Foundation at (800) 622-9010.