'This test can save your life': Woman's deadly close call

A LUCKY Ipswich mum who cheated death has issued a warning to others - don't ignore your kidneys.

A few years ago, Redbank Plains woman Anna Bridgeman was facing the real prospect of having to start dialysis because her kidney function had dropped so low.

Until she was 18, Ms Bridgeman had no idea there was anything wrong with her.

As a teenager she experienced some issues, believed to be related to her menstrual cycle.

In 2008 she was diagnosed with kidney disease.

She's among many in the West Moreton Oxley region, which was ranked third in the country for the highest proportion of people affected by chronic kidney disease.

Ms Bridgeman's scans revealed she had a horse shoe kidney, a rare condition where the kidneys are fused together in a horse shoe shape.

"I didn't know I had a kidney problem, there wasn't really any symptoms," she said.

"Apart from a few urinary tract infections there was really no sign of an issue at all.

"Sure, I was tired sometimes but anyone can be tired."

Anna Bridgeman of Redbank Plains had a kidney removed after suffering kidney failure.
Anna Bridgeman of Redbank Plains had a kidney removed after suffering kidney failure. David Nielsen

Once she was diagnosed, doctors decided to operate. They put a stent in the left kidney to improve her kidney function.

In 2012, one week after the surgery, Ms Bridgeman found out she was 20 weeks pregnant.

At one point during her pregnancy, her kidney function dropped to 10 per cent.

"Through the pregnancy and after I was very close to end-stage renal failure," Ms Bridgeman said.

"I was having weekly tests, I felt like a bit of a pin cushion at times.

"One in every three Aussies have a kidney issue - not many people realise how prevalent it is.

"When my kidney function was low, I was very lethargic. It's very draining. You don't want to do anything, things like putting out washing are so draining - you feel like you have no energy and just doing basic things like getting up out of bed in the morning can be a struggle.

"When you lose all function, you lose all motivation and it can be depressing."

Ms Bridgeman waited until after having her two children before having her defunct kidney removed.

Today Ms Bridgeman's life is mostly normal. Her kidney function is back up to 85 per cent.

"I guess the message is, even though you seem relatively healthy, you could have a kidney issue," she said.

"A general blood test every year could save your life."


The silent killer rampant in West Moreton

IPSWICH is a hotspot for one quiet but potentially killer disease.

Chronic kidney disease is prevalent in the West Moreton Oxley region, according to Kidney Health Australia.

A recent study by the organisation showed the proportion of people within the area with signs of the disease was significantly higher than the national average of 10 per cent.

At 16.4 per cent, the West Moreton Oxely region was ranked third in the country for the highest proportion of people affected by chronic kidney disease.

Kidney-related disease kills more Australians each year than breast cancer, prostate cancer and road accidents combined, but the prevalence of this silent killer has not boosted awareness.

Kidney Health Australia interim CEO Dr Lisa Murphy said while one in three Australians was at increased risk of developing kidney-related disease, and 53 died from it every day, most were unaware they had it until it was too late.

"One Australian dies every 27 minutes and 1.7 million are affected by chronic kidney disease," Dr Murphy said.

"But it is highly undiagnosed and less than 10 per cent of people who are affected know they have the disease."

Dr Murphy said one simple online test, which helps people to understand their risk factors, could help prevent this devastating and costly toll. Kidney-related illness is estimated to cost the Australian economy $4.1billion a year and is projected to rise to $12billion by 2020.

Next week marks the launch of Kidney Health Week and Kidney Health Australia is urging everyone to check if they could be among the 'one in three' people living in Australia at increased risk of developing chronic kidney disease by taking a simple online test.

"It's important Australians know the indicators of chronic kidney disease, as 90 per cent of kidney function can be lost without any symptoms and early detection is vital to successful treatment," Dr Murphy said.

Australians at risk of developing chronic kidney disease include those who have diabetes, high blood pressure, established heart problems such as heart failure or heart attack, have had a previous stroke, a family history of kidney failure, are obese with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, smoke, have a history of acute kidney injury, are older than 60 or of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin.

"Don't wait until you feel sick. Take our online test and if you are high-risk get your kidneys checked," DrMurphy said.

Take the test at www.kidney.org.au