Volunteers screen for kidney disease

Volunteers screen for kidney disease

Although not everyone involved in the Kidney Disease Screening and Awareness Program is looking into careers in medicine, they are all looking to volunteer and help the community.

Students involved in KDSAP, an organization with chapters at Harvard University, North Quincy High and Brookline High, go out to the communities in Greater Boston area monthly and volunteer at free kidney health screenings.

Most recently, students went to the World Kidney Day event at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in March and to another screening event at a Brookline church in April.

According to club adviser and science teacher Barbara Weiffenbach, Dr. Li-Li Hsiao, who advises and mentors KDSAP, was very impressed with the students from Brookline. Weiffenbach said that the students were excellent at a screening that she has been to.

“They were really helpful, and they were really needed there,” Weiffenbach said. “The woman who runs the program said that she thought that this was the best group ever.”

The kidney health screening consists of a series of tests to preventatively screen for kidney diseases, according to senior Jake Cohen, the president of the Brookline chapter. If an acute kidney disease is detected, doctors affiliated with the program will recommend further measures to be taken, so that the acute kidney disease does not become chronic kidney disease, Cohen said.

Sometimes this includes assigning a social worker to help people receive appropriate medical care.

Volunteers perform tasks such as registering participants for the screening, helping them fill out health questionnaires, measuring participants’ blood glucose levels and body mass index, and operating urinalysis machines.

Juniors Nicki Polyakov and Shigeru Kaneki are both certified for blood glucose testing, and both are interested in pursuing medical careers.

Polyakov said she became involved in KDSAP after taking the elective Medical Careers course, and she saw this as another medical training option. She is also planning to do a medical internship over the summer.

Like Polyakov, Kaneki said he would like to become a doctor, so he thought it would be fun to participate in the program.

In addition to working with the official KDSAP organization last year, the Brookline chapter also planned the first high school student-initiated screening, according to Cohen.

Weiffenbach said that it is important to have students who speak languages other than English in the program because translators are sometimes needed to communicate with the screening participants.

“I was invited to participate in a screening in Brookline that was marketed towards the Russian-speaking community,” said senior Iona Feldman, an officer of KDSAP who speaks Russian.

Feldman is not interested in a career in medicine, but he still wants to help the community.

“I continued working with it because I believe that we’re doing valuable work,” Feldman said.

“We are doing the screenings in communities where people otherwise wouldn’t get the chance to get this health information. It would be much more difficult for them.”

Lily Bohlke can be contacted at [email protected]