Jennifer Branch: My name is Jennifer Branch and I am a PKD survivor, polycystic kidney disease, and I'm also a transplant recipient, kidney transplant. I would want to tell other people who have been diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease that it's definitely not a death sentence, so there's a lot of options, a lot of education available, a lot of good doctors and nurses who definitely know a lot about polycystic kidney disease. The University of Kansas Hospital has helped me through my healthcare journey with having polycystic kidney disease immensely. First of all, I got established with nephrologists there. I have been enrolled in some polycystic kidney disease studies and the research studies have felt so empowered by being able to participate in those studies.
Dr. Franz Winklhofer: My name is Franz Winklhofer. I'm a nephrologist with an interest in polycystic kidney disease. I'll see a lot of patients with very early stage kidney disease, especially polycystic kidney disease, but I take care of patients on dialysis as well. Polycystic kidney disease or PKD is a genetic disorder. It's the most common, potentially fatal genetic disorder. Affected patients will over time develop cysts in the kidneys and they can develop so many cysts that the good kidney tissue is essentially replaced or destroyed and then that leads to the chronic kidney disease and kidney failure. At this time, the treatment or potential treatments for PKD are very limited. The treatment at this point is really focused on trying to limit other risk factors that we know can lead to progression of kidney disease or kidney injury. We started the PKD clinic here a number of years ago because of the just broad range of expertise that we had both in the clinicians as well as the basic scientists who have a strong research interest in PKD.
We see, again, patients in all stages of the disease. The PKD clinic here offers the ability to, first of all, diagnose the disease. We can also give information about prognosis and then obviously we're focused on trying to treat the disease as best we can. We can offer further consultation with other specialists to help interpret some of the results. There's also access to clinical trials. Our program is unique in this area because there, to my knowledge, isn't another clinic that's solely dedicated to PKD patients only. The other thing is that we have not just clinicians but we have researchers that have PKD as their sole focus. We have a wide range of diagnostic imaging that we can use to help clarify the diagnosis. Sometimes we are referred patients who've been diagnosed with PKD and we find out that it's something completely different as well. So I think the just the close focus on polycystic kidney disease and the progression of the disease and the complications are something that we're, I think particularly well equipped to deal with.
Jennifer Branch: I feel like I'm at the best place that I possibly can be with polycystic kidney disease. I like to share my journey with other people. People can live a very long, healthy life with kidney disease. It is definitely something that you can work with people who are very caring, very knowledgeable and very invested in kidney disease and helping people like myself. They're so close to identifying all the genes responsible and coming up with medications and treatments that can help people with polycystic kidney disease.
Dr. Franz Winklhofer: The future for PKD treatment is still bright. There are numerous other targets that potential therapies may become available for. The amount of research that's being brought to bear to try and find a cure is more now than ever.