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Kansas City, Mo.— When many people think of kidney disease, a picture of someone elderly with recurring health problems often comes to mind. However, Melissa Bensouda knows that is not always the case. She was 24 years old when her doctor told her she had chronic kidney disease.

Bensouda was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease caused by a condition called Immunoglubulin A (IgA) nephropathy which is when protein deposits clog cells in the kidneys. At first it seemed she would be able to manage her disease with diet and blood pressure medicine. However, after the birth of her third child, the strain on her kidneys was too much and they failed.

After two years of dialysis at a clinic, Bensouda decided to try home dialysis. With her machine in her bedroom, she dialyzes every other night for eight hours. Home dialysis has allowed her to return to work full-time and gives her more freedom in her diet.

Bensouda encourages everyone to find out if they may be at risk for kidney disease.

“Any of us can say that we are healthy and don’t have to worry about our kidneys. But many people with kidney disease go undiagnosed for years. Even if you do find out you’re not at risk for kidney disease right now, it’s still important to educate yourself and understand what you should do to keep your kidneys healthy,” she said.

St. Joseph Medical Center will offer free kidney health risk assessments on Wednesday, March 30, 6 p.m., in the Community Center for Health and Education on its campus at I-435 and State Line Road. A presentation on risk factors and preventing kidney disease by Walter L. Bender, MD, with Kidney Associates of Kansas City, will follow from 6:30-8 p.m. Seating is limited, call 816-943-2584 to reserve your seat.

St. Joseph Medical Center is an acute care facility of Carondelet Health ( which also includes St. Mary’s Medical Center, three long-term care facilities and home care services. Carondelet Health is dedicated to the healing ministry of Jesus Christ. Our commitment to human dignity compels us to provide compassionate, quality healthcare for body, mind and spirit, with a special concern for the poor. We are responsible stewards serving the needs of all people from conception to death. Carondelet Health is a member of Ascension Health, the nation’s largest Catholic and nonprofit health system.