Health And Family

'You can be better': Hope for Bea Rose Santiago as cure for chronic kidney disease underway

Ritz L. Ignacio - Philstar.com
'You can be better': Hope for Bea Rose Santiago as cure for chronic kidney disease underway
Miss International 2013 Bea Rose Santiago sharing her ordeal with end-stage renal failure and five-times-a-week dialysis during a livestreamed interview from Canada at the Binibining Pilipinas 2021 coronation night last weekend.
BPCI via YouTube, screenshot

MANILA, Philippines — Last Sunday, Miss International 2013 Bea Rose Santiago pulled heartstrings and went viral anew when she shared her ordeal with end-stage renal failure and five-times-a-week dialysis during a livestreamed interview from Canada at the Binibining Pilipinas 2021 coronation night.

“It’s either you get better or you get bitter and it’s really that simple," Bea Rose said when asked by one of the event's hosts, Miss Grand International 2016 first runner-up Nicole Cordoves, on where she draws strength from despite the challenges posed by her kidney disease and the pandemic.

The Filipino-Canadian beauty queen is diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that has given her end-stage renal failure. She said she is waiting for a kidney transplant and has been undergoing dialysis five times a week. She even underwent training so she can operate her own machine and can administer dialysis on her own.

“You have to allow life and what it has been dealt to you and allow it to make you a better person, a better version of yourself or it will consume you. I don’t like my pain to make me a victim. I want my story, my battle, to make me someone else’s inspiration,” she stressed.

Related: 5x a week dialysis: Bea Santiago shares message of hope at Binibining Pilipinas 2021

But hope for a cure might be close for Bea Rose and other people like her who are dealing with kidney disease.

Research and trials are ongoing for a medicine that can cure Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), a Filipino nephrologist confirmed last June 30 via a webinar held by pharmaceutical company Sanofi and Connected Women, an organization that aims to engage women through entrepreneurship, freelancing and remote work.

“Meron nang gamot ngayon na dumating na talagang nagpapatapon ng asukal at kaming mga nephrologist excited sa gamot na ito,” Dr. Lynn Gomez, a nephrologist from the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay, told Philstar.com and other media at the virtual press conference that seals the official partnership between Connected Women and Sanofi “toward building a healthier Philippines through women’s health education.”

Gomez clarified that without this medicine, the sugar levels in the body and blood pressure will remain high, especially when suffering from CKD.

‘Powerhouse’ of the body

Gomez described the kidney as the “powerhouse” of the body for it filters the blood to release through urine.

“The first job of the kidney is really to filter the blood… 20 percent ng ating dugo dumadaan sa kidney i-fifilter siya, isasala para lumabas 'yung mga products of filtration. Ang normal filtration ay 100 ml per minute, after that you will form 1.5 liters of urine. 24 hours siya nagtatrabaho, walang tigil, dahil kailangan natin linisan ang dugo,” Gomez said.

Gomez also explained that the kidney balances the needs of the body, enhances the health of bones, teeth and nails of the body, and maintains the redness of the blood to keep the body energized.

Chronic kidney disease as 10th leading cause of death



Gomez showed data on how diabetic people undergoing dialysis and those with high-blood pressure suffered from kidney failures since 2005.

She also revealed that there is a 50% probability that diabetes could lead to kidney failure.

“So kung may diabetes ka, talagang pwede ka magdevelop ng kidney failure leading to dialysis. Eto po 'yung mga taong nag-umpisa ng dialysis. Pataas sila ng pataas. From 2001... in 2007, 2008, mataas ‘yung take off nya. Just like the rest of the world, 50 percent will be secondary to diabetic kidney disease,” Gomez explained in a webinar with Connected Women and Sanofi.

She added that high-blood pressure, the second leading cause of chronic kidney failure, can still cause complications regardless if the patient suffers from diabetes or not.

“The next cause is hypertensive nephrosclerosis o altapersyon. Kaya kailangan din [kahit] na wala kang diabetes, kung may high blood ka, puwede ka rin magkaroon ng kidney failure,” Gomez said.

Gomez emphasized how 90% of people experiencing kidney diseases will experience “no symptoms,” although this disease is the 10th common cause of death.

She explained that CKD has five stages. In stage five, the patient will be needing renal replacement therapy.

“Ang role ng kidney na pinakaimportante ay mag filter. So, kailangan niya mag filter at 100 ml per minute. Kaya lang po 'pag nasisira na ang kidney, nakikita n'yo based sa staging, bumababa na 'yung kapasidad mag-filter,” explained Gomez.

She warned that diabetes and high-blood pressure that are common among the family could be a “red-flag” for CKD.

“It’s either you screen kasi early detection ‘yun. Kung meron kang risks, ‘yung mga may kamag-anak na may diabetes or hypertension or ‘yung mga nag dialysis na kamag-anak, three percent higher ang risks kapag meron ka ring kamag-anak na nagkasakit,” Gomez explained.

Golden rules of kidney protection

Gomez said patients with CKD will have difficulty to fight against COVID-19 as the immune system has become incompetent. She advised that “early detection” could prevent the worsening of this chronic disease’s symptoms.

For World Kidney Day 2021, St. Lukes Medical Center Section of Nephrology provided tips on how to take care of your kidneys:

1. Keep fit and active. Regular exercise can improve your overall health and maintain your healthy weight to reduce risk of diabetes, heart diseases, hypertension and possible cancers.

2. Keep regular control of your blood sugar levels. Diabetes is one of the leading causes of CKD. Regularly checking your blood sugar levels or maintaining blood sugar level is a must especially if you have hypertension or if your family has a history of having one.

3. Monitor blood pressure. It is important to know your blood pressure to indicate if you could have possible heart disease or stroke. Since high-blood pressure usually has no symptoms, regularly monitoring your blood pressure could help you maintain cardiovascular homeostasis.

4. Eat healthy and keep your weight in check. Dr. Gomez advised that if you become obese or overweight, you could have possible risk of having diabetes and hypertension. Thus, monitoring your food intake and weight can help drift you away from these possible illnesses.

5. Maintain a healthy fluid intake. Drinking water can prevent kidney stones and constipation. It can also help your kidney get rid of wastes, protect your spinal cord and tissues, lubricate your joints, and keep your body at a normal temperature. Dr. Gomez advised to drink eight to 10 glasses of water a day.

6. Do not smoke. Smoking not only affects blood flow, said Dr. Gomez, but also, it shortens your life expectancy and increases risks to diseases such as lung cancer, throat cancer, heart diseases, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and more.

7. Do not take over-the-counter pills on a regular basis. Dr. Gomez discouraged the intake of herbal supplements. Majority of these supplements are secreted by the kidney and liver, which could be stuck in case you have kidney problems.

8. Get your kidney function checked if you have one of the “high risks” factors. Dr. Gomez said in case you have “high risks” factors, get a urinalysis, filtration and ultrasound to see what is the effect of these high risk factors on your kidney.

“Dapat talaga 'wag tayo maghintay na meron tayong maramdaman,” Gomez emphasized.

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