Hot Topics in Kidney Health

Hot Topics in Kidney Health

Join us as we highlight the latest in kidney research, dispel myths, bring you up-to-date news in kidney care, and answer questions from patients to help them live well with kidney disease or a transplant.

Hot Topics in Kidney Health logo, A patient podcast by the National Kidney Foundation




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Research Spotlight: Reporting and Management of Hemodialysis Symptoms

For people with kidney failure, hemodialysis is a life saving treatment. On average, people can live for 5 to 10 years on dialysis, but many have lived 20 to 30 years. Hemodialysis also comes with some distressing symptoms like muscle cramps, itching, and fatigue. Doctor Jennifer Flythe and Precious McCowan, a dialysis patient and kidney advocate, are here to talk about a new study that aims to better monitor and help manage the symptoms of hemodialysis.


Gender Diversity & Kidney Care

The most commonly used equation that determines someone’s kidney function includes a binary male-female sex coefficient. But what does this mean for the care of transgender, gender-diverse, and nonbinary people?



Pride in Practice: Empowering LGBTQIA+ Communities in Kidney Health

Empowering the LGBTQIA+ community is important during Pride Month and beyond. Today we're speaking with Brian Sims, Living donor and former PA State Representative, and Josh Wilder, DPM, transplant recipient, podiatrist and former Survivor contestant, about how to empower the LGBTQIA+ community in kidney health and how to create an inclusive and affirming environment for all.


Unfiltered Story: Next steps after losing a transplant

Losing a kidney transplant can feel very overwhelming. Today we're here with Anthony Tuggle, a former NKF board member, to hear how he's coping with losing a transplant and learn what's next for him.



Coping with losing a transplant

Everyone loves to talk about kidney transplant success stories but rarely do we talk about what happens if a transplant fails. On today's episode Dori Muench, a post transplant social worker, and Sue George, a kidney warrior with experience losing a transplant, are here to discuss the impact of losing a kidney and how to cope.



Artificial Kidneys

When will the artificial kidney be ready for human use? Learn more about the progress of the artificial kidney and how it will affect someone's quality of life from expert Shuvo Roy, Ph.D.



What is a high KDPI kidney?

When a kidney from a deceased donor becomes available, it is scored on a system called the Kidney Donor Profile Index (KDPI). How accurate is it at predicting possible transplant survival? On this episode, we speak with experts to get the facts



Fad diets and kidney diets

It’s hard to keep up with all the new fad diets out there. Do you know which ones are right for you and your kidney health? On this episode, you will hear from experts on finding the diet that's right for you and how to stick to it.


Superfoods for people with kidney disease

You may have heard the buzzword superfoods but what are they and do they have special qualities? Board-certified renal dietitian, Jen Hernadez is here to break it down. 



What do clinical end points and trials mean for CKD research?

Clinical trials exist to help prevent, screen for, diagnose, or treat diseases and other health problems. Without them, we would not have new treatments or other advances in health and medicine. But how are the clinical trial endpoints, or the preferred outcomes of these trials determined? Today, Anthony Gucciardo NKF’s Senior Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, Dr. Joseph Vassalotti, NKF’s Chief Medical Officer, and Kent Bressler, a Patient advocate and FSGS patient, discuss this and more.


Mindfulness meditation for kidney patients

You may have heard the term mindfulness before but what does it mean, what are the benefits, and how can you integrate mindfulness into your life? On today’s episode Gary Petingola a Social Worker certified to teach Mindfulness-Based Stress Reductionexplains all this and more.



Transplants for All

At the National Kidney Foundation, we believe that everyone who needs a kidney should get a kidney. To make this dream a reality, we’ve launched the Transplants for All Initiative. What is this initiative and how will it make a difference in the lives of people with kidney disease? In today’s episode special guests Morgan Reid, NKF’s Transplant Policy & Strategy Director and Haley Jenson, NKF’s Transplant Programs Director explain this and more.



BONUS: Sexuality and kidney disease

Sexual dysfunction is incredibly common in patients with kidney disease. In today's bonus episode, you'll learn about why it is so prevalent, the different treatment options, and how to improve communication around this important but often neglected aspect of health.



LGBTQ+ advocacy in healthcare

Over 50% of LGBTQIA-plus people have experienced some form of healthcare discrimination and over 25% of transgender people reported being denied care due to their transgender status. Not having proper health care or avoiding health care due to discrimination, can result in dire consequences, including an increased risk of health problems like kidney disease. What is this discrimination, and how can you advocate for yourself and LGBTQIA+ rights? In today’s episode Dr. Joshua Wilder, a podiatrist, and Representative Jeff Currey, two kidney transplant recipients and members of the LGBTQIA+ community, discuss this and more.



NKF Innovation Fund: developing new treatments for kidney patients

For far too long treatments for CKD haven’t changed. Launched in 2021, the NKF Innovation Fund works to accelerate funding, and development of therapies that kidney patients deserve. On this episode, you will hear from NKF CEO Kevin Longino interviews Kathleen St. Jean, Chief Commercial Officer of 34 Lives, one of the first recipients of a significant investment from NKF’s Innovation Fund to help further develop a new technology to rehabilitate donated kidneys for transplantation.



Living donors and mental health

Donating a kidney is one of the most selfless gifts one person can give to another. But what is that experience like for the donor before and after the transplant surgery? Today, we'll hear from Jessica Kolansky, a living kidney donor, and Alexandra Catalyst, a transplant coordinator, about the post transplant experience and what resources are available to donors after the surgery.



Laughter therapy for kidney patients

Is laughter really the best medicine? On today’s episode we’ll discuss an exciting new coping strategy for dialysis patients called guided group laughing therapy. What is it and how does it help? Dr. Paul Bennet who ran a study on the benefits of laughing therapy and Kimberly Super-Harrigan, a dialysis patient, are here to break it down.



BMI and weight management for kidney patients and living donors

Obesity is one of the major risk factors for developing kidney disease, which is measured through the body mass index or BMI. This measurement factors into the process for both living donors and transplant recipients. On today’s episode, you’ll learn how to measure your BMI and hear from both kidney patients on how managing their weight affected their kidney health.



Access to reproductive care for kidney patients

In 2022, the US Supreme Court overturned precedent established by Roe v Wade, eliminating the constitutional right to abortion. Family planning decisions can be difficult and complex for kidney patients. On today’s episode, we’ll discuss how this impacts kidney patients and disadvantaged patients with limited access to healthcare.



Game Changers: Treating CKD earlier

Did you know that 40% of chronic kidney disease progression may be preventable with earlier diagnosis and treatment? On this episode, you will hear the facts around treating CKD earlier from Dr. Joe Vassalotti, NKF’s Chief Medical Officer. You will also hear from Jane DeMeis on her journey with kidney disease.



Exercise and bone health: what CKD patients should know

Keeping your body and bones strong are important when you have kidney disease. Do you know what types of exercise are good for kidney patients? What about for transplant recipients or people on dialysis? In this episode, we sat down with experts to discuss the benefits and recommendations of managing an exercise routine.



Managing fluid intake as a CKD patient

It is important that certain individuals with CKD limit their fluid intake, but many don’t understand why or where to begin. On today’s episode, we sat down with experts to discuss fluid restriction, such as why it’s important, the negative effects of consuming too much, and ways to manage a fluid-restricted diet.



Treatment options for undocumented people with kidney disease

Undocumented people face increased barriers to accessing health coverage and care, including treatment for kidney disease. In this episode, our guest experts discuss what treatment options are currently available for undocumented people and what kind of advocacy efforts are being made to improve their access to health care. 




Breaking Down New Medicare Coverage for Immunosuppressant Drugs

The Medicare coverage for immunosuppressive drugs for kidney transplant patients has recently been expanded. But what does this new benefit cover and who is eligible? in this podcast, Cynthia Nichols-Jackson, a registered nurse and a program coordinator for the National Kidney Foundation, and Troy Zimmerman, a special projects director for the National Kidney Foundation, discuss how this new policy will affect the future for kidney transplants.



Should You Follow A Special Diet After Transplant?

After a kidney transplant, your diet still plays a big role. Do you know which foods to avoid or how your transplant medications affect what you can eat?
On today’s episode, we’ll discuss how you can keep your new kidney healthy while also maintaining a healthy weight.

How potassium affects kidney patients

One of the jobs your kidneys is to manage your body’s levels of potassium, which keeps your heartbeat regular and your muscles working right. Many kidney patients need to watch what they eat to ensure that their potassium levels don’t become too high and cause dangerous health risks. On today’s episode, you’ll hear how to best manage your potassium levels to protect yourself.



How kidney patients should protect themselves from COVID-19 in 2022

While many people feel like the world is headed back to normal, many kidney patients can feel left behind. COVID-19 is still top of mind for those who are immunocompromised and we're here to offer resources and support. On today's episode, our guests will answer your questions about how COVID-19 affects transplant, dialysis, and early stage CKD patients.



What is basic science research and why is it important?

When we hear the word research, most of us think of innovative breakthrough treatments and technologies. But applied clinical research could not be possible without another type of research called basic science research in which scientists study the fundamental processes of the human body. In this episode, we’ll learn what basic science research is and how it applies to the area of kidneys and kidney disease.



Working with your clinician to make shared decisions for your care

Shared decision making can play a vital role in the treatment of kidney disease. When physicians involve patients in their care, they may be able to help slow progression and improve outcomes. In this episode, we discussed how patients and their physicians can achieve this and hear stories from patients who have been there.



How kidney disease affects your mental health

People with chronic conditions like kidney disease face mental health struggles such as depression or anxiety. In many kidney patients those challenges often go overlooked or undertreated. In this episode, we sat down with a mentor and mentee from NKF Peers to discuss their experiences and the importance of talking to someone who knows what you've been through.



Tips for finding a living donor

If you are in need of a kidney transplant, finding a living donor can sound scary and overwhelming. Where should you start and what’s the best way to share your story with the world? In this episode, you will hear from transplant recipients who once stood in your shoes.


Pig kidneys in humans? Xenotransplantation explained.

From the invention of the dialysis machine to the first successful kidney transplant, science has come a long way in extending life for kidney patients. Is transplantation between humans and animals the next step? In this episode, you will hear from a doctor behind the first successful transplant of a human receiving a pig kidney and where the science can take us from here.


Deciding to become a living donor

Many potential living organ donors have questions, such as what does the journey look like, and how do you know if you are eligible to donate? On this episode, our panel will share the first-hand experience of being a living donor and walk potential living organ donors through the evaluation process.

Pregnancy and kidney disease

Pregnancy can be an exciting time for most people, but what does it look like if you are a kidney patient? What does pregnancy look like if they have kidney disease, are on dialysis, or have received a transplant? In this episode, we’ll hear useful facts and tips from transplant nephrologist Dr. Mariana Markell, as well as personal stories from Cari Maxwell and Katie Reed, two mothers living with kidney disease.


What are SGLT2 Inhibitors and are they the right drug for you?

You might have heard about drugs called SGLT2 inhibitors used in treatment of kidney disease, but, just like many other kidney patients, you might not know if they’re right for you. On this episode, we explain how different SGLT2 inhibitors are from other kidney disease medications, discuss side effects, cost, and the ongoing research around this category of drugs.


How much sodium is safe for kidney patients?

Most patients on dialysis need to limit the amount of sodium in their diets. But how much sodium is safe and what are some ways to add flavor to your diet? On today‘s episode, our experts cover examples of high sodium foods, recommendations for low sodium substitutes, and how much sodium people with kidney disease should have as a part of a healthy diet.


What do changes to eGFR calculation mean for patients?

In September of 2021, NKF and the American Society of Nephrology announced that our joint taskforce recommended a new, race-free approach to measuring eGFR. What does this new equation mean for patients, especially those who identify as Black or African American? In this episode, we sat down with two members of that taskforce to find out.

Tips for overcoming financial hardship for kidney patients

Many kidney disease patients often face financial hardships, such as having to leave a job or struggling to pay for medications. We sat down with physician and a postdoctoral research fellow Dr. Issac Acquah to talk about his recent research into the financial impact on people with chronic kidney disease.


How to become an advocate for kidney health

Over the past year, NKF advocates have won a number of policy campaigns both in Congress and state capitals across the country - but we're not done yet. In this episode, we discussed some recent wins and our upcoming challenges for the kidney advocate community with Jeff Currey, a Connecticut State Representative and kidney transplant recipient, and Armand Halter, an NKF patient advocate who helped lead NKF’s efforts to pass the Connecticut version of the Living Donor Protection Act.

Delta variant and COVID-19 booster shots

A major worry for many people right now is the Delta variant, a highly contagious strain of COVID-19 which is making headlines across the United States. The FDA has just authorized a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine so that immune compromised patients can better protecting themselves from the virus. What does this mean for CKD, dialysis, and transplant patients? We spoke with Dr. Joseph Vassalotti, NKF Chief Medical Officer, in a recent Facebook Live to share the facts about the Delta variant, COVID-19 booster shots, and other concerns facing kidney patients.



Coping with depression & anxiety during a global pandemic

Depression and anxiety affect many Americans but they are especially common in those with chronic illness like kidney disease. How has depression and/or anxiety affected you during your journey with kidney disease? We spoke with Tracey Doss-Simmons, LMSW, an outpatient social worker at a dialysis center in Michigan, and two dialysis patients, Ellyne and Sean, to get their insight.
Plant-based diets: Can they work for kidney patients?
For some kidney patients, eating more plant-based foods may help prevent and slow the progression of chronic kidney disease. But what exactly does a plant-based diet entail and how do you know if this diet is right for you?