ONE WEEK LATER…

It’s been a week since the cyclists returned from the Nescafe 3in1 LifeCycle Challenge, and speaking as someone that was there, getting used to the daily routine once more, has been no easy task. The LifeCycle atmosphere is so totally different, challenging and yet addictive, that normal life after just seems a little bit more gray at first.  One week later the exhaustion is beginning to wear off, fond memories have started flashing in my head while I daydream, and I begin to plan for and dream of the next Challenge. I thought I’d catch up with some of the cyclists and ask them for their comments on how they’re feeling, one week later. The answers were varied, some entertaining, some totally serious. The rest of this blog post is dedicated to sharing these musings with you, as an interesting perspective into a cyclists mind, after such a monumental challenge.

CROWDFUNDING: WHY AND HOW?

Why Crowdfunding?

The 2019 Nescafe 3in1 LifeCycle Challenge has been one of the best so far. Challengers cycled from Hanoi in Vietnam, through 

Laos and all the way to Siem Reap in Cambodia where they finished in Angkor Watt. It was an immense challenge where they faced extremes of heat and rain with 16 of the initial 24 making it to the finish line. It was a good year in terms of team spirit, where by the end everyone felt like one big family, despite what we had been through together. It was a great year in terms of fundraising, with at least €100,000 so far going to renal patients. It’s also a year for new beginnings and refreshed efforts as we are focusing on making fundraising a year round venture, to further improve on the support we offer renal patients. This year, as part of these efforts, we are organising a crowdfunding campaign on social media for two main reasons. Firstly we need to reach out for more help to provide the renal patients with their Wishlist, which includes things such as lifesaving equipment and essential psychological help. Secondly in doing so we will be working on our online presence, an essential part of raising awareness.    

So…How will the crowdfunding work?

As I mentioned we will be focusing on social media, specifically facebook and instagram. Until January 2020 we will be releasing content with two special hashtags:

#Endure4Renal & #LCCCrowdfunding

These hashtags will remind people about our campaign, hopefully inspire them to donate, and can be used by anyone sharing content to encourage donations! The battle against renal failure is year round, the disease doesn’t stop and neither will our efforts to get support for the renal patients. As with any good crowdfunding campaign you get prizes for your donations! The prize categories are as follows:

  1. €20-€45: #Endure4Renal T-Shirt
  2. €45-€75: #Endure4Renal T-Shirt; LifeCycle Malta Bottle
  3. €75-€175: #Endure4Renal T-Shirt; LifeCycle Malta Bottle; 1 Month Gym Membership at ChicPhysique Studio Naxxar
  4. €175-€300: #Endure4Renal T-Shirt; LifeCycle Malta Bottle; 3 Months Gym Membership at ChicPhysique Studio Naxxar

There are two ways to donate to this campaign, either via PayPal or Revolut (Link and Number HERE). Come January 2020 we will then give out the prizes and contact you via the contact information provided to us by these systems, so please insure your contact information on either PayPal or Revolut is up to date. We will need to contact you regarding shirt sizes and collection of prizes.

The Renal Unit Wishlist

As we mentioned funds go towards fulfilling a wish list which we discuss every year with renal unit team. The following gives a quick description of where your money goes!

Main Projects

Traccia

Traccia is a database company that keeps the records of all kidney recipients on our waiting list, and allocates the donor kidney to the best match and according to an established algorithm.  When kidney donation is allocated to the best match, the recipient will have a better chance of a smooth transplant and will also have a longer and better quality of life without dialysis.

Research

We invest annually in a research project focusing on understanding a specific type of kidney disease (autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease – or APDKD for short). The aim is to understand why it arises, in the hope of treating it more efficiently and aims to correlate genetic traits with the clinical features of the disease. APDKD is the most common form of hereditary renal disease that is the most common type to manifest in children whereby numerous cysts grow in the kidneys.

R.U.S.H (Renal Unit Support Health Hub)

As we know, renal failure is a disease which greatly affects the quality of life and mental state of renal patients. We are endeavouring to offer support in respect to all aspects of this disease, and through the R.U.S.H project we will be focusing on nutritional needs, helping patients understand the disease and support them by providing psychological sessions for patients and family members. This project officially began on World Kidney Day, 2019, where we started providing psychological vouchers to patients.

Equipment

  • Upgrade of “Innova” machines used for any children needing dialysis.
  • Mannequin arm used in training of nurses

Lourdes Trip

It is an unfortunate side effect of renal failure that those needing dialysis are unable to take a holiday or go on vacation. To give them the possibility of having a break we fund a trip to Lourdes for patients where nurses accompany them to a centre where they can get dialysis while having some time away from the day-to-day turmoil the disease brings.

INTRODUCING RENAL FAILURE

What are Kidneys For?

The size of your fist and the shape of a bean, your kidneys are your body’s filtration system. They make sure waste doesn’t build up in your blood, allowing you to function normally. Inside this curiously shaped organ are millions of tiny filtration agents, know as nephrons, which I think you’ll agree is a pretty cool name. Each nephron is in turn made up of a glomerulus and tubule. The glomerulus acts like sieve, allowing the smaller waste products and water to flow into the tubule. Water is then re-absorbed, allowing some water and the waste products to be passed as urine. Kidneys do other stuff too, like help control blood pressure, create red blood cells and maintain bone health. When they fail, waste products  slowly build up in the bloodstream, causing our blood to become toxic. The problem is compounded because symptoms can be very non-specific at first.

What happens when they fail?

The lists of symptoms when it comes to renal failure is long and depends on the type of kidney failure. I’m going talk about 

symptoms that go with Chronic Kidney Disease (which slowly gets worse, with symptoms appearing after severe damage has already been caused) and Acute Kidney Failure (which occurs suddenly with symptoms showing up relatively quickly). The following are examples of  symptoms of Chronic Kidney Disease:

  • Nausea
  • Trouble Breathing
  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Abnormal amounts of urine production (too much or too little)
  • Swelling in feet and ankles

When it comes to acute kidney failure symptoms are more intense with typical examples of symptoms being:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Fever
  • Rashes
  • Vomiting

For more complete lists of symptoms you can check out Healthline’s article on the subject or this MedicineNet article. The issue with the symptoms is that with many types of Renal Failure, they can be barely noticeable until a patient’s only option is dialysis.  Even worse are cases where the disease isn’t recognised until it’s too late. The best thing is to stay away from common causes, and if you have a family history of kidney failure, there are urine tests that can be done.

Why do they fail?

Our bodies are very well balanced systems, with the kidneys being a major part of of maintaining this balance. Being so integral, it generally takes a lot to send them out of whack, but modern lifestyle have made conditions kidneys never had to deal with, commonplace. The two main causes of end stage renal failure today are Diabetes and High Blood pressure, with obesity being a third contributor. These three conditions normally only lead to renal failure if left unchecked, and in many cases, can at least be controlled by a healthy lifestyle. Of course they can fail for many reasons, with this list outnumbering the symptoms list significantly in most sources I found. Causes can include:

  • Severe Dehydration
  • Heart Attack
  • Severe Blood Loss
  • Lack of blood delivered to the kidney
  • Kidney Trauma
  • Severe Infection such as Sepsis

What happens when they fail?

Unfortunately there are not many options when kidneys do fail. There are of course various stages, which while I will not go in detail on, I will say that Stages 1 and 2 are related to mild damage, so changing to a healthy lifestyle significantly helps slow damage. Stages 3 and 4 are where medication to treat underlying causes becomes necessary, with stage 5 being the most severe stage requiring blood dialysis and a transplant. Blood dialysis is the artificial filtration of blood, of which most local patients require 12 hours per week of. It is an invasive, painful and draining procedure that seriously negatively affects your quality of life. Transplants are somewhat more of a sustainable solution, but finding a good match can be very difficult. The procedure is also very invasive, and can leave psychological scars if after-care is not properly carried out. Kidney failure also recquires patients to follow a very strict low potassium, sodium and phosphorus diet.

What can you do?

The first thing you can do is keep yourself away from this disease by maintaining a healthy, natural lifestyle. Stay away from the precursors diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. As we get older we should test regularly, especially if we suffer from one of the precursors. Once you’ve steered yourself of this disease its’ time to help those already suffering from it. Spread awarenesss however you can, maybe by sharing our blogs and social media posts. If you have some money to spare maybe consider donating towards a cause like ours, or if you want to put your body on the line as a way of sympathising with patients, join our annual LifeCycle Challenge! Renal failure is not a disease we hear about often, but it is very real, deadly and devastating and with a little awareness, can happen far less often than it currently does!

More Resources

https://www.healthline.com/health/kidney-failure#alcohol https://www.medicinenet.com/kidney_failure/article.htm https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/kidneys-how-they-work https://www.kidneyfund.org/kidney-disease/kidney-failure/#what_causes_kidney_failure