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March World Kidney Month
Balancing the Body - Why Kidney Care is Critical 

Nassau, THE BAHAMAS - The two fist-sized organs in your lower back known as kidneys are vitally important. They are responsible for filtering waste out of the body, regulating the body’s salt, potassium and acid content, balancing body fluids, producing vitamin D and controlling the production of red blood cells. Globally, the month of March is recognized as World Kidney Month which focuses on the bean shaped pair tasked with key functions to keep the body in balance. 

Diabetics, persons with high blood pressure or a family history of kidney failure all have increased risk of kidney disease.  Due to very few warning signs, most people do not even realize they are in danger until the disease has progressed. Oaktree Medical Center Nephrologist Dr. Don D. Deveaux knows first hand the critical role these organs play and encourages Bahamians to get annual checkups which may detect the onset of the disease and save lives.

“People with kidney disease often have low blood count and often become anemic. Unfortunately, only late in kidney disease patients begin to see signs and symptoms which includes leg swelling due to the build up of fluid in the body.  Patients often tend to have bad feelings, feeling nauseous and vomiting due to a build up of toxins in the body,” explains Dr. Deveaux. 

According to Dr. Deveaux, there are several stages of chronic kidney disease ranging from one to five. “Often the time most people are referred to a kidney doctor is when the Glomerular Filtration Rate or GFR reaches less than 60%, stage three kidney disease is from 60% to 30%, stage four is 29% to 15% and stage five is less than 15%. It is at stage five where renal replacement therapy is discussed, however a renal transplant is not available for everybody.  Other options include peritoneal dialysis where the patient uses their own body as a source of treatment. The peritoneum in their abdominal wall is filled with a clear fluid which remains in the body for several hours, then is drained along with toxins out the body. However, the most common treatment here in The Bahamas is hemodialysis, where the patient is attached to a machine and toxins are removed from the blood and fresh blood is retuned to the body,” he says. Patients on hemodialysis require treatments for 3-5 hours, up to three times a week often requiring the support of family. Dialysis is a commitment and major lifestyle shift for not only the patient but the entire family. 

The U.S. based National Kidney Foundation cites kidney disease as the 9th leading cause of death with more than 30 million Americans with kidney disease many of which are unaware and more than 95,000 people currently on waiting lists for kidney transplants.  

 Dr. Deveaux and the Oaktree Medical Center team of doctors specializing in internal medicine, rheumatology, gastroenterology, infectious diseases and nephrology encourage all patients to exercise at least 30 minutes daily, drink plenty of water, eat a balanced diet, maintain a healthy weight and always have annual check ups.

 “Prevention is better than a cure, we want our patients to live long, healthy productive lives. Many chronic, non-communicable diseases can be prevented by lifestyle changes and with a concerted focus on self care, which should include kidney care,” says Dr. Deveaux.

Dr. Deveaux specializes in Internal Medicine with a sub-specialty in Nephrology, treating common conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney stones, chronic kidney disease, end stage renal disease (dialysis) and kidney transplants.  He also performs kidney and bladder ultrasounds. A graduate of St. Augustine’s College in Nassau, The Bahamas, he received his medical degree at The University of The West Indies (UWI) in Mona, Jamaica and completed his Internal Medicine training at State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate.  He furthered his training and completed his fellowship in Nephrology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.