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Diagnosing kidney disease: the gift that could change lives

18 September 2018
Kidney specialist Professor Carol Pollock has been treating Vicki Hanson for more than 20 years. Now Vicki is expressing her gratitude with a donation that could help millions worldwide.
Vicki Hanson

Vicki Hanson is giving $105,000 to support renal research.

Vicki Hanson knows she may never personally benefit from her $105,000 donation towards renal research. But she believes one day her gift will help other people who, like her, suffer from chronic kidney disease.

Vicki is donating to support the work of Professor Carol Pollock, the kidney specialist who has been treating her for more than 20 years.

Vicki’s illness is complicated by the fact that she has only one kidney. The other was removed almost 30 years ago, when doctors found tumours growing through her lymph nodes (they turned out to be benign).

Chronic kidney disease is usually diagnosed with a renal biopsy. In Vicki’s case, however, Professor Pollock avoided the biopsy, as she worried it could pose a risk to the remaining kidney.

If Professor Pollock’s research is successful, the biopsy could one day be replaced by a less risky, less invasive and cheaper urine test. Vicki’s donation will support a three-year study to discover whether cells found in urine can be used to identify people at risk of progressive kidney failure. This would mean earlier diagnosis, which is crucial for successful treatment (patients can lose 90 percent of their kidney function by the time symptoms start to show).

More people die of kidney disease in Australia each year than they do of breast cancer, prostate cancer and road accidents combined.
Professor Carol Pollock

Over the next three years, Professor Pollock and her team will analyse the urine of biopsy patients to see if they can use it to predict the patients' results.

The research could benefit millions. In Australia alone, chronic kidney disease affects almost 1.7 million and contributes to approximately 15 percent of hospitalisations.

“More people die of kidney disease in Australia each year than they do of breast cancer, prostate cancer and road accidents combined,” says Professor Pollock.

Vicki hopes to make further donations towards research. She dreams of a day when her gift will change lives. “I’d love to help save people from having to go through dialysis if possible,” she says. “And the rejection of kidney transplants is a big issue. I’d be very grateful if something could be done there.

“It probably won’t happen in my lifetime, but even though it may not help me, it may help other people. I’ve always believed that you should try to help if you can.”

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