Three organizations dealing with kidney disease in the African-American community of Flint

FLINT, Mich. — Although chronic kidney disease is the ninth leading cause of death in Michigan, more than one million Michigan residents have chronic kidney disease, but only about 3 percent are aware of it. This reality has a disproportionate impact on African Americans who are almost 4 times more likely than white Americans to suffer from kidney failure.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, “For Americans with diabetes or high blood pressure — the two most common causes of chronic kidney disease — the risk of chronic kidney disease is even greater. 1 in 3 people with diabetes and 1 in 5 people with high blood pressure suffer from chronic kidney disease.

In the state of Michigan, the Organ Procurement and Transplant Network records that African Americans make up only about 14% of Michigan’s population, but make up nearly 33% of those on the transplant waiting list. kidney.

Chronic kidney disease continues to be a challenge for the African American community in Flint due to existing racial disparities. These disparities stem from disproportionate rates of pre-existing health conditions like diabetes and hypertension, two major risk factors for chronic kidney disease. Disproportionate rates of chronic kidney disease in communities of color have also been linked to insufficient access to health insurance and quality medical care, ultimately delaying diagnosis and treatment.

In an effort to level the playing field in health, many community organizations and health organizers are currently advocating and creating health education materials to raise awareness about chronic kidney disease.

Gift of Life Michigan is located on Research Park Dr. in Ann Arbor, MI.
Gift of Life Michigan

Gift of Life Michigan is an organization founded in 1971 by five transplant surgeons with the goal of creating a statewide patient-centered system that distributes organs equitably between transplant centers and patients who need them. Not needed anymore. The organization has grown to serve 9.9 million people, 176 hospitals and 8 transplant centers and maintain the Michigan Organ Donor Registry in cooperation with the Secretary of State.

Dr. Silas P. Norman, Professor of Medicine and Nephrology Specialist at Gift of Life Michigan, says the biggest issue facing the African-American community in Flint right now when it comes to kidney disease is the lack of awareness about kidney disease. and access to nephrology. care.

To combat this challenge, Gift of Life Michigan helps encourage community members to perform regular wellness checkups, especially if residents have diabetes and/or hypertension, as these are the two main causes. kidney disease and kidney failure.

“Our most effective programs have been those that engage directly with communities, such as engagement in schools with hair and beauty salons, fraternities/sororities, and other local leadership groups,” explains Norman.

In addition to direct engagement through programs and events, Gift of Life Michigan provided outreach materials to help educate community members about organ donation and health issues like kidney disease. which can cause patients to need organ transplants.

“Talking about organ and tissue donation is not a fun conversation. I get it, but it’s a conversation that needs to happen – preferably before tragedy strikes. If you’ve made a documented decision ahead of time and shared that decision with the person who will speak for you when you can’t speak for yourself, that takes some of the pressure off during a very stressful time.” , said Gift. from Life Michigan communications specialist Sholanda Griffin.

To donate or learn more about Gift of Life Michigan, visit:

The National Kidney Foundation Michigan (Flint Chapter) is located inside the YMCA building at 411 E. 3rd St. in Flint.
The National Kidney Foundation Michigan (Flint Chapter)

According to NKF, African Americans are more than 3 times more likely to suffer from kidney failure than white Americans. Studies also show that the African-American community suffers from “much higher rates of high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, all of which increase the risk of kidney disease.”

“While this work is incredibly important, it alone cannot address all of the racial disparity issues facing the African American community or in any community of color. But it can make progress in addressing health care disparities that continue to serve as a catalyst for disenfranchisement among minority communities. Together, we must continue to do tangible, results-oriented, life-saving work,” said Linda Smith-Wheelock, President and CEO of NKFM.

In an attempt to close the current health gap, NKFM is currently fighting for affordable health care for all, access to medications and transplantation, patient choice, and home dialysis options.

“All of our programs attempt to close the health disparity gap by targeting funding, scholarships and grants to those who need our programs and services the most. The NKFM offers many programs that reach the African American population in a variety of ways, such as messaging, location tracking, and community partnerships. These programs include our Early Childhood Programs, Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), Personal Action Toward Health (PATH), and EnhanceFitness, among others,” said NKFM Communications Representative Joyce Williams.

NKFM grant-funded programs also include social support to enable participation, such as transportation assistance and bringing healthy food into the community.

“NKFM is working very actively with state and local partners to seek Medicaid coverage and Medicaid expansion for the people we serve. The NKFM also serves as direct resource navigators for anyone with or at risk of kidney disease who may need help understanding and accessing all of the support services available to them,” Williams said.

According to NKFM, members of the community are always welcome to volunteer. Volunteers work at fundraising events as program instructors and in community work. People with chronic kidney disease can become “peer mentors” to support newly diagnosed people. Peer mentors are “been there” and can answer their questions, help them understand kidney disease, navigate the healthcare system, and lead a quality life.

To get involved with the National Kidney Foundation Michigan, visit:

The Flint area (MI) Links chapter, embedded

The Flint Area (MI) Chapter of Links, Incorporated is another Flint community awareness group working to raise awareness of chronic kidney disease and provide helpful activities and resources to educate the Flint community about the factors of risk and the importance of routine examinations.

The Flint Area (MI) chapter of Links, Incorporated, an international women’s service organization, developed the Black Kidney Awareness Resource Education (KARE) initiative to raise awareness of racial disparities in chronic kidney disease in Genesee County. Links, Incorporated creates and distributes nutritious brochures and recipes and also organizes free community educational initiatives.
A black KARE billboard located in Flint, MI.
“The goal of the Black KARE Initiative is to educate the black community in Flint and surrounding areas about the risk factors and complications of chronic kidney disease, as well as to focus on the positive health outcomes for those who currently suffer from chronic kidney disease,” said Shirley W. Johnson. , president of the Flint Area (MI) chapter of the organization.

In an effort to raise awareness of Chronic Kidney Disease and provide resources for those affected by Chronic Kidney Disease, The Flint Area (MI) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated has partnered with the Hamilton Community Health Network, at the Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village, Hasselbring Senior Center and other local and national resources to distribute educational materials and run programs for all ages.

“We have worked hard to incorporate this information into community programs to reduce the number of new cases of CKD in the Black community, increase awareness about how best to manage this disease, and reduce disparities related to CKD. ‘CRI and kidney failure,’ says Johnson.

To learn more about the work of the Black KARE Initiative, visit:

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