Nfld. & Labrador

Corner Brook woman raising awareness about deadly kidney disease

Nina Young was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease at age 12 and has since seen several family members die from it.
Nina Young was diagnosed with PKD at age 12. Her daughter also has the disease. (Jennifer Grudic/CBC)

A Corner Brook woman is fighting for her life, and for awareness of a disease that has plagued her family for generations.

Nina Young was first diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease (PKD) when she was 12 years old. Since then, she's witnessed six of her nine family members die as a result of the disease, including her mother.

"I remember growing up with a lot of depression," said Young. "My mom was really sick and she fought for eight years on dialysis. Unfortunately it didn't work properly, and she ended up getting brain damage and I took care of her the last two years of her life."

A common genetic disease in Canada

It was then, Young realized just how important it was to spread awareness. She herself began dialysis two and a half years ago, and is currently on the waiting list for a kidney transplant.

Nina Young, Meggie Durnford, Sam Durnford and Nancy Bolton showing support at this year's PKD Awareness Day in Corner Brook. The city proclaimed Sept. 4 PKD Awareness Day. (Nina Young/Submitted)

According to the PKD Foundation of Canada, autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease is one of the most common genetic diseases in the country, affecting about 1 in 500 people.

It's characterized by numerous large cysts forming inside and around the kidneys, impeding their function. People with it have a 50 per cent chance of passing it onto their children.

Despite a grim prognosis, regular hospital visits and frequent complications, Young said she has chosen to remain hopeful that a cure will be found, especially since her daughter, now 18, also has the disease.

"I'm trying to be brave and stay positive for my daughter and for the rest of my family," she said.

"Right now, there is no cure, but there is a treatment: tolvaptan. It's hope for my daughter and for those whose kidneys are just starting to decline."

This year the City of Corner Brook proclaimed September 4 PKD Awareness Day.

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