Energized by their name “Renal 9-1-1: COM Cares About Kidneys,” a UCF College of Medicine team is walking on Sunday to raise money for the National Kidney Foundation (NKF). Money from the National Kidney Foundation 5K walk at Lake Nona’s Medical City will fund research and treatments, and support families dealing with the disease.

Over 26 million Americans — 1 in 9 adults — have chronic kidney disease, and most don’t know it. Because symptoms may not appear until the kidneys are actually failing, millions of people with kidney damage remain unaware and are not taking steps to protect their health.

First-year medical students Alex Eskandari and Jasmine Steele are leading the College of Medicine Renal 9-1-1 team and both are studying aspects of kidney disease for their Focused Inquiry and Research Experience (FIRE) projects. They are examining the prevalence of foot ulcers in non-diabetic kidney patients, why such patients are prone to the ulcers, and how to prevent the condition. Such ulcers are especially challenging because drugs used to treat the condition can impact the kidneys. The students are working with patients from the Orlando VA who are treated at the facility’s foot clinic.

“When you have kidney disease, everything changes,” said Alex. “Yet the public and families don’t seem to know how serious a problem kidney disease is.”

Currently, 382,000 Americans depend on kidney dialysis to stay alive and 88,000 are on the waiting list for a kidney transplant. Each year, 112,000 people are diagnosed with kidney failure – one person every five minutes.

Dr. Abdo Asmar, assistant professor of internal medicine at the College of Medicine, and a practicing nephrologist at UCF Pegasus Health, the college’s physician practice, serves on the board of the Florida NKF. He helped get this year’s walk at Medical City. To join Renal 9-1-1 or to contribute to the team, please visit http://donate.kidney.org/site/TR/Walk/Florida?pg=entry&fr_id=8796