BROOKINGS, S.D.—Americans have a 1 in 10 chance of suffering from kidney disease, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For Native Americans, the risk doubles.
More than 112,000 people are on the organ transplant list, and a disproportionate number of those are Native Americans, according to Nancy Fahrenwald, associate professor at South Dakota State University’s College of Nursing.
But with SDSU’s share of a $13.5 million grant from the National Institute on Minority Health and Disparities awarded to Sanford Research and its partners, Fahrenwald hopes to improve the outlook for native people and their families facing kidney disease.
The five-year grant brings together the tribal communities and health care professionals through the establishment of a Collaborative Research Center for American Indian Health in Sioux Falls under the leadership of Amy Elliott, director of the Center for Health Outcomes and Prevention Research at Sanford Research/USD.
This center will then work with tribal leaders to educate and engage the communities in ways that will improve health care for American Indians in South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota.
Initially, the center’s research component will target three areas: pediatric asthma, emergency room usage and kidney disease. Fahrenwald serves as principal investigator for the research component titled, “Culturally Targeted Education on Living Kidney Donation,” with $1.32 million in funding for the next five years.
She explained that the best practice for kidney donation involves getting evaluated when kidneys begin to fail, and being placed on the transplant list or identifying a living donor.
“This is the best scientifically for anyone, but for this minority population, there are many barriers to having those conversations, to getting evaluated for transplant before they are on dialysis,” Fahrenwald explained.