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National Kidney Month: Students' Parents Gift Teacher with Kidney

Update Date: Mar 04, 2013 11:58 AM EST

It's not altogether unusual for children to have an attachment to their teachers, but parents? Most of the time, parents barely get to know their kids' teachers aside from parent-teacher conferences and Back to School Nights. However, that is far from the case for one teacher, Diane List, who is receiving a kidney from one of her students' parents.

According to KOB Eyewitness News 4, Ms. List has suffered from kidney disease since the age of 12 and, two years ago, her kidneys began to fail. When she mentioned that she was on the donor list to a pupil's mother, Julie Rivera immediately offered to give her one.

List will undergo surgery this week, when doctors will remove both of her failing kidneys. For a few weeks, she will be on dialysis. If everything goes well, the transplant surgery will take place in April or May.

This story has a happy ending, and experts want to ensure that other people have one too. Kidney disease is the ninth leading cause of death for Americans, affecting 26 million adults. However, unlike the brain or heart, most people do not suspect that there is anything wrong with these vital organs without a visit to the doctor.

This month is National Kidney Month, and experts are trying to boost awareness of this important but often underappreciated organ. According to the Santa Monica Mirror, the hard-working kidneys filter waste from the blood, produce red blood cells and Vitamin D, and maintain blood pressure levels.

However, the symptoms for kidney disease, which include fatigue, nausea and itchy skin, are often subtle. As a result, Fox News reports that many people are unaware that they have it until the disease is in its late stages, meaning that their kidneys no longer work and they must begin dialysis or register for the transplant list.

Much of the problem can be solved with screening. Screening for kidney disease is a painless procedure that consists entirely of peeing in a cup. Then the urine will be tested for trace amounts of protein.

In order to minimize your risk of kidney disease, you will want to watch your cholesterol, maintain a healthy diet and perform regular exercise. People with diabetes and high blood pressure are considered to be at particular risk for the disease. People over the age of 60 and have African American, American Indian, Hispanic or Pacific Islander ancestry are also considered to have a greater risk.

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