As many of you know, Carter was diagnosed with Nephrotic Syndrome- Minimal Change Disease in April of 2010.
What is Nephrotic Syndrome-
The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs found in the lower back. Each is about the size of a fist. They clean the blood by filtering out excess water and salt and waste products from food. Healthy kidneys keep protein in the blood, which helps the blood soak up water from tissues. But kidneys with damaged filters may leak protein into the urine. As a result, not enough protein is left in the blood to soak up the water. The water then moves from the blood into body tissues and causes swelling.
Minimal Change Disease
The condition most commonly associated with childhood nephrotic syndrome is minimal change disease. Doctors do not know what causes it. The condition is called minimal change disease because children with this form of the nephrotic syndrome have normal or nearly normal appearing kidney biopsies. If a child is diagnosed with minimal change disease, the doctor will probably prescribe prednisone, which belongs to a class of drugs called corticosteroids. Prednisone stops the movement of protein from the blood into the urine, but it does have side effects that the doctor will explain. Following the doctor's directions exactly is essential to protect the child's health. The doctor may also prescribe another type of drug called a diuretic, which reduces the swelling by helping the child urinate more frequently.
When protein is no longer present in the urine, the doctor will begin to reduce the dosage of prednisone. This process takes several weeks. Some children never get sick again, but most experience a relapse, developing swelling and protein in the urine again, usually following a viral illness. However, as long as the child continues to respond to prednisone and the urine becomes protein free, the child has an excellent long-term outlook without kidney damage.
Children who relapse frequently, or who seem to be dependent on prednisone or have side effects from it, may be given a second type of drug called a cytotoxic agent. The agents most frequently used are cyclophosphamide and chlorambucil. After reducing protein in the urine with prednisone, the doctor may prescribe the cyclophosphamide or chlorambucil for 8 to 12 weeks. Alternatively, cyclosporine, a drug also used in transplant patients, may be given. Treatment with cyclosporine frequently continues over an extended period.
In recent years, doctors have explored the use of mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) instead of cytotoxic agents for children who relapse frequently. MMF is an immunosuppressant used to treat autoimmune diseases and to keep the body from rejecting a transplanted organ. MMF has not been tested for treating minimal change disease in large clinical trials, but doctors report promising results with small numbers of patients. MMF has milder side effects than cytotoxic agents, but taking immunosuppressants can raise the risk of infection and other diseases. The good news is that most children outgrow minimal change disease by their late teens with no permanent damage to their kidneys
Please join us by walking on October 6th at the AT&T Center, or donating to help to further kidney research. We hope to see you there!
Join us in Taking Action
Last year, the American Kidney Fund provided assistance to 1 out of every 5 dialysis patients in the United States. This year, we will be walking to raise money and awareness for those living with kidney disease. You can join me in the fight against kidney disease by supporting my personal fundraising efforts. Your contribution, whether it is $20 or $2,000, will help fund the programs that provide financial assistance to people living with kidney disease.
About Kidney Action Day
Kidney Action Day is full of family-friendly and kidney-healthy activities. The day will start out with a walk to emphasize the importance of exercising to keep your kidneys healthy. There will also be free cooking and exercise demonstrations, health screenings and entertainment!