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PKD Pathway

New Kidney Health Pathway at Lakeridge Health

Lakeridge Health is the first hospital in Eastern Ontario offering a health care pathway for people living with polycystic kidney disease.

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is a chronic, genetic condition with no cure. The condition causes fluid-filled cysts to grow in the kidneys, which often leads to kidney failure. In most cases, PKD is passed from one generation to the next by an affected parent. With over 66,000 Canadians living with PKD today, early management and education is vital.

The new pathway at Lakeridge Health means more resources for those living with PKD in Oshawa, Whitby and further in Eastern Ontario, way before they are facing kidney failure. With the pathway, patients can access early genetic testing, specialized kidney care supports, and education.

“Previously, there was so little we could do to slow the progression of this disease,” shares Courtney Mitchell-Storey, a member of the PKD pathway team at Lakeridge Health’s Whitby Hospital. “All you could really do was wait and drink lots of water. Now, there are so many more touchpoints for people. Now, there are options.”

One of the options presented to those living with PKD is a new drug meant to slow the progression of the condition. The medication makes patients thirsty, forcing them to drink enough water every day to benefit their kidneys. The Lakeridge Health staff, as part of the new PKD pathway, are there to help educate patients on this option, and to navigate the side effects of the drug.

For young people living with PKD, the pathway is a chance to preserve their kidney function for longer, to get genetic testing, and to learn more about a condition that has likely been in their family for years.

“The pathway is reaching those young, healthy people living with PKD who would not have had as much access to kidney care before. We’re trying to keep them healthy for as long as possible. There is no cure for PKD, but we are trying to slow the progression. If you are offered a few extra years before kidney failure, you’ll like take it. Dialysis or transplant can save your life, but it also undoubtedly changes your life.”

Letting people know of their options early-on is only one benefit of the pathway for the PKD community in Eastern Ontario. For many people living with PKD, they are living with a higher risk of brain aneurysms, heart valve abnormalities, and even hypertension, the number one cause of kidney failure in Canada. The PKD pathway at Lakeridge Health means more touch points to learn about these risks, and a chance to identify them early on.

After being referred into the pathway by a nephrologist, people living with PKD have access to:
  • options for care,
  • disease and risk management,
  • nutrition counselling,
  • genetic testing,
  • a health team with specialized PKD knowledge, including nurses and social workers, and
  • education about how to navigate life with a genetic, chronic condition.
Thankfully, with Lakeridge Health’s new PKD pathway, a team of kidney care experts, with specialized PKD training, is available to families right here at Lakeridge Health.

On polycystic kidney disease day, please join us in congratulating the kidney care team behind the launch of Lakeridge Health’s PKD pathway!